The number of tourists coming to Bahrain has been steadily increasing, according to statistics from the Ministry of Information’s Tourism Division.
It is rising by an average of 10-15 per cent a year in the last three years. Figures for the summer months show this trend is continuing.
Although five-star hotels in Bahrain usually see a drop in occupancy during the summer vacation, in comparison to previous years, the majority of hoteliers say they have seen an increase in the number of visitors coming to Bahrain this year.
Most guests in Bahrain’s five-star hotels are usually corporate travellers, but with less business being conducted over the summer, the majority of visitors arriving on vacation are GCC families using Bahrain as their first stop on further travels.
“There are always less people in Bahrain during the summer, but we are seeing an increase in the number of people that have come compared to last summer,” Gulf Hotel public relations manager Sidney Fortun said. “The attraction is the luxury and comfort as well as the freedom Bahrain enjoys.”
According to figures from the Information Ministry, in previous years the majority of visitors to Bahrain have been from Gulf states, although their numbers have dwindled from 75.6 per cent of the total number in 2,000 to 65.4 per cent of the total number last year.
Sheraton Hotel Bahrain director of sales and marketing Christopher Chan-Piu agreed that numbers are up from three or four years ago.
“This is largely due to Bahrain’s expansion, and in order to target these people we have to include certain infrastructure, for example the Sheraton is going to be connected to the MODA Mall, which will allow Saudi women to explore the mall without the need of taking a taxi,” he said.
The second largest tourist group in Bahrain are visitors from southern Asia whose numbers increased from 8.6pc in 2000 to 12.9pc last year.
The majority of hoteliers agree that to increase tourism numbers Bahrain needs to focus further on promoting local culture and avoid stereotyping itself as an alternative to the more cosmopolitan summer vacation location of Dubai.
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