Tourism is booming in Bahrain. Yes, the Booming Bahrain (BB). This industry is becoming one of the leading sectors to boost the country’s economic development. Both government and private sector have been enjoying benefits of this smokeless industry, such as bringing in foreign exchange, increasing trade, creating employment and improving the country’s visibility abroad.
Choosing tourism as the main sector is based on the growing trend (in the region) to diversify economy. Bahrain just simply copied UAE, which one step forward success in managing tourism. Those GCC countries realize its need to reduce high dependency on oil sector and moreover planned to diversify its economy. They believe that one day, they can not depend on oil anymore and therefore, since now they are preparing to find other alternatives: TOURISM.
And, as a trend of international travel, tourism is increasing in almost every part of the world. Tourism is becoming one of the most promising sectors to improve economy. With this in mind, the Bahrain government has been seeking to tap into the Kingdom’s tourism potential as a key pillar of its diversification policy.
The country has been witnessing a rapid increase in the number of visitors in the past few years. Arrivals by foreign nationals reached a record of 7.5 million in 2006, up from about 6.6 million in 2005 and 3.33 million in 2000. The government has set an ambitious target to double tourism revenues and increase the sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP to 10% by 2014. From hospitality subsector only, tourism has given $1.5 billion to Bahrain economy and investment. The Kingdom’s hospitality sector is poised to enjoy healthy growth rates, where hoteliers in other parts of the world can only dream about.
Bahrain is also keen to establish the country as a tourism hub in the region. This keenness is endorsed by the fact that private sector initiatives, with over $10 billion in tourism projects in the pipeline, will help to offer enough rooms at any given time, especially during global events like Formula One Grand Prix.
And the F1 Grand Prix itself, has been increasing visitor numbers from outside the region, particularly Europe and the US. The event attracts nearly 100.000 visitors in three days and contributes $548 million to the Kingdom’s economy in 2008.
In the future, 50 high profile projects at value $22 billion are underway such as the City Centre, Marina West, Durrat Al Bahrain, Al Jazair Beach, Bahrain Bay, Diyar Al Muharraq and scores of new international chain luxury hotels, lead the kingdom to be one of the most favourite business and leisure destinations in the Middle East.
Data from Tourism Affair of Ministry of Information showed eighteen international hotels are under construction that will support Bahrain tourism with additional 4,500 starred rooms. These rooms will need approximately 3,600 employees, working directly for the hotel. And, by its multiplier effect, the new hotels will absorbs roughly 10,000 indirect workers from various sectors. Can you imagine that..!
What about Indonesia? As I explained earlier, while Bahrain is now enjoying the growth, other parts of the world like Bali, Batam, Bunaken and Lombok can only dream about. Again, it’s gloomy.