‘You need to keep moving to stay active’

The Gulf Hotel’s Mohammed Buzizi, a legend in Bahrain’s tourism industry, tells SREEKRISHNA BHAT that retirement means giving way to new ideas – for the hotel, and for himself

An era has ended for Bahrain’s Gulf Hotel with the retirement of its senior-most official.

Mohammed Buzizi, who joined the hotel as a trainee manager 35 year ago, retired from the Bahrain Hotels Company (BHC), the hotel’s owning firm, as the managing director in March.
Buzizi led the hotel’s growth since becoming its general manager in 1980, the first Bahraini and Gulf national to occupy that position in the hotel industry. “Time has come to give way for new ideas, new blood,” Buzizi said in interview with TTN.
But the veteran, who walks tall among the travel and tourism industry executives in the region, will not fade away from the scene. “When you are an active person you cannot standstill. You need to keep moving to stay active,” he said.
Buzizi will begin his new role as the head of a consultancy soon, while still continuing to contribute to the Gulf Hotel’s success as a board member and the chairman’s advisor on international relations.
Buzizi and his partners will launch ATTA (Air Transport and Tourism Associates) on May 1. The aim of the company is to advise, conduct research, offer consultancy services and bring parties together in the areas of tourism, travel, hospitality and air transport. The company will depend on the expertise of a world-wide network of associates.
“We will act as a facilitator, using our experience in hospitality, MICE business, airlines field and in tourism,” said Buzizi.
Contacts have already been established with several associates in various countries and the response has been very good, he said.  “Our aim is to help bring inward investment to Bahrain in the hospitality and tourism industry. We are also open to investing in projects if such opportunities arise.”
Though ATTA’s initial sphere of operation is the Gulf, Buzizi says the consultancy will not be restricted by boundaries. The consultancy will be based in Bahrain at the Zamil Towers.
Despite his years of experience at the highest levels in the industry, Buzizi said it would be not be cakewalk for the new firm. “Nothing is easy. We have to overcome the hesitation of people to deal with a new firm. I would like to assure them that my associates have wide experience in consultancy and research fields.”
Asked to rate the market for such a service, he said: “The leisure, travel, transport and hospitality sectors are growing strongly and the growth will continue for the next five years, at least. Every country in the region is competing with one another on developing destinations and facilities. The contribution of the tourism industry to the GDP of regional economies is also increasing. This assures us that there is a good market for the services we will provide.”
Speaking about his Gulf Hotel experience and his contribution to its success, Buzizi said he is proud of the fact that the hotel is recognised internationally as a premier property even while not being part of any chain. “I am happy to say the Gulf Hotel is one of the largest hotels in the region. It has 370 rooms and 100 luxurious apartments in a single complex, complemented by the largest convention centre attached to a single hotel in the Gulf, together with eight restaurants and leisure facilities. We have built a property which has successfully competed with international chain hotels and the increasing profits of the company is a testament to our growing success.”
On a personal level, “it is very gratifying to me that I am retiring as the MD of the hotel, after having joined as a trainee.”