* BTEA actively seeking to attract inbound travellers from around the world
* Robust marketing campaign aims to welcome 15.8m visitors by 2018
* Inbound traffic during Q3 2016 grew by 8.4 per cent
* Leisure sector expected to reach BHD1.2bn (AED11.6 billion) by 2026
Among GCC nations, Bahrain might not be the one most advertised as travel and tourism destination. The unofficial knowledge is that Bahrain gets the majority of its tourists or weekend visitors through Saudi Arabia, as nationals cross the King Fahad Causeway connecting the two countries to spend the weekend in Bahrain.
However, newly released figures forecast that the Bahrain tourism industry will reach $1 billion by 2020 – meaning the nation must be attracting travellers from beyond Saudi Arabia.
The figures were released by Arabian Travel Market (ATM), a leading international travel and tourism event in the Middle East. This year’s edition will take place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from April 24 to 27.
The Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority (BTEA) is indeed actively seeking to attract inbound travellers from different places around the world, as it spearheads a robust marketing campaign through which the kingdom expects to welcome 15.8 million visitors by 2018 – representing a 36.2 per cent increase on current visitors’ numbers.
“The Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority has engaged with a number of public authorities and private sector organisations over recent months and the returns are beginning to be realised,” Simon Press, senior exhibition director of ATM, said in a statement.
“The BTEA now operates seven official representation offices worldwide, with a focus on source markets in Europe and Asia, and will continue to work hand-in- hand with hotels, tour operators and cruise lines to achieve its objectives,” Press added.
According to the data, Bahrain witnessed an 8.4 per cent increase in inbound traffic during the third quarter of 2016. The peak of the year was seen in August, when the number of travellers reached 1.4m.
According to the analysis of the forecast, the phenomenal growth will be driven by the leisure sector, expected to reach a value of BHD1.2bn (AED11.6 billion) by 2026. Meanwhile, business arrivals are expected generate BHD219.3m (AED2.1 billion) per annum by 2026.
Consequently, the tourism sector’s contribution to GDP will also rise, from the 10.6 per cent in 2015 to a predicted 13 per cent contribution in 2026.