In Brief


New CEO for BTEA

Bahrain’s Deputy King, His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, has issued a decree appointing Sara Ahmed Buhiji as the Chief Executive Officer at the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA). Dana Osama Yousif Al Saad has been appointed as the Deputy CEO for Resources and Projects at the BTEA.

The appointments are based on a proposal of the Minister of Tourism, and following the approval of the Cabinet, said a Bahrain News Agency report.


Saudi Arabia posts robust 156% growth

Saudi Arabia has recorded a robust tourism recovery with a 156 per cent growth in international arrivals in 2023 compared to 2019 (pre-pandemic year), according to the World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) Barometer report.

Meanwhile, the Middle East region is the only one to exceed pre-pandemic tourism levels, with a 22 per cent growth in 2023 compared to 2019.

Globally, the tourism sector is steadily rebounding. By the end of 2023 the global average achieved 12 per cent below pre-pandemic levels in international arrivals, with about 1.3 billion international arrivals.  The sector’s international revenues neared $1.3 trillion, reaching 93 per cent of the 2019 figure of $1.5 trillion. Looking ahead, the UNWTO forecasts a complete recovery of global tourism this year.


The Rig. to offer adventure at oil platform

A world-first adventure tourism project inspired by the design of offshore oil platforms will come up in Saudi Arabia. The masterplan for The Rig., a project by Public Investment Funds (PIF) was announced recently. The unique hospitality and adventure experience will span a gross floor area of over 300,000 sq m, located 40km from the coastline, near Al Juraid Island and Berri Oil Field in the Arabian Gulf.

The RIG. will seek to attract over 900,000 annual visitors by 2032, appealing to a wide range of audiences, including adrenaline seekers, explorers, balanced holiday makers, and relaxation seekers. It will have three hotels totaling 800 rooms, along with 11 restaurants, an extreme sports and adventure park, a world-class marina, and helipads.


OCEC shatters attendance records

The Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC) surpassed previous attendance records by hosting around 1.5 million visitors in 2023, a 25 per cent rise from 2022 attendance. The OCEC has collaborated with key industry partners to drive investment and growth for sultanate’s business events sector, benefiting leading airports, hotels, and tourism companies. It hosted 230 events, including 19 regional and international, 149 local events supporting over 90 SMEs, live events & corporate meetings.


Türkiye visa exemption hailed

Turkish Airlines, a global leader in aviation, has hailed a major move made by Türkiye to extend visa-free entry to the nationals of the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia. Tourists from these countries can now spend 90 out of 180 days in Türkiye without a visa. The new visa exemption rule is set to bolster ties between Türkiye and these countries, and further strengthen the country’s tourist numbers from 2024, Turkish Airlines noted.

Türkiye is also providing e-visa options to expatriates living in GCC countries. Eligible travellers can apply to the Türkiye electronic visa (e-visa) system. Nationals of Algeria, Egypt, India, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines and Yemen holding a valid visa or valid residence permit from one of the Schengen countries, the US, UK or Ireland can apply.


Date set for Future Hospitality Summit

The 2024 edition of the Future Hospitality Summit (FHS) Saudi Arabia will take place at the Mandarin Oriental Al Faisaliah in Riyadh from April 29 to May 1. Organised by The Bench, FHS Saudi Arabia brings together the hospitality investment community’s industry leaders and decision-makers to discuss development, investment, entrepreneurship, sustainability, innovation, and human capital.