Workshop for buyers


HOSTED buyers at Bahrain International Travel Expo (BITE) 2010, got an in-depth introduction to the island courtesy of Ministry of Culture and Information executive director and advisor tourism affairs Dr Heba Aziz.

Dr Heba told a workshop for the 35-strong hosted-buyer contingent that Bahrain witnessed 11 million arrivals in 2009 of which around seven million were visitors.

But she added that the number of hotel room nights was low in comparison and, since this is what drives revenue, the ministry is keen to target high-net-worth individuals and promote the island as a short-stay destination.

She said this would be particularly relevant for hosted buyers from India with Gulf Air flying to the sub-continent from various destinations raising the possibility of Bahrain becoming a popular stop-off point along the way.

Adding that Bahrain’s current average stay is two nights, Dr Heba said this is actually one of the highest in the Gulf region but she said the ministry’s ambition is to drive this up to two-and-a-half nights.

Hosted buyers at the show came from India, China and Russia and Hisham Al Baradie, senior advisor at Magnum Events and Exhibitions Management, which organises the show, explained that the three countries were chosen not simply because their economies are rapidly expanding but also because of the success of previous hosted buyer programmes from the west and the US which are still continuing to benefit the local tourism economy.

A comprehensive programme for the hosted buyers included one-to-one meetings with exhibitors and various five-star hotels as well as the chance to experience some of Bahrain’s unique attractions.

Russian Galla Sidorova of Miceter said: “It’s our task to help people discover Bahrain and the show and the activities that have been arranged have helped us to do that for ourselves.”

Gurjit Singh Ahuja, CEO of Travel Shastra, from India, said: “It has been an enlightening visit because before this trip all I knew about Bahrain was about pearl divers and, of course, Gulf Air.

“I think it could have potential as an incentive destination though I do have some questions on that which I am sure the organisers can help with.

“I think it would also make a good stop-over destination, which is what Bahrain Tourism is talking of promoting but for that to happen the visa process needs to be simplified.”