In a tête-à-tête with Travel And Tour World, Dr. Nasser Ali Qaedi, CEO, Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority enlightens readers with tourism opportunities the Kingdom of Bahrain has to offer. Dr. Ali also emphasises on his plans to uphold Bahrain as a global destination in the future years.
Travel And Tour World: Bahrain provides a wealth of opportunities for tourism. What is your expected footfall for 2023 tourism season? Which destinations/regions of the Kingdom of Bahrain do you want to promote to Indian tourists?
Dr. Nasser Ali Qaedi: Bahrain as a destination has been increasingly growing in popularity among the Indian travellers in the recent years. With the current growth seen in inbound tourism, we are very positive that the footfall for 2023 will be very promising.
It is the hidden gem of the Middle East, and is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after leisure destinations in the region. Each region in this country has something captivating and alluring to different types of travellers. The destination is an idyllic location for millennial travellers, solo/women travellers, senior citizens, honeymooners, couples, and families. With its year-round sunshine, stunning beaches, rich cultural heritage, and thriving culinary scene, the island offers an unforgettable experience for travellers seeking a unique vacation experience.
Travel And Tour World : Of late, the Kingdom has opened its largest ever exhibition and convention centre, the Exhibition World Bahrain. How many events do you have in the pipeline for the 2023 event calendar? What kind of events do you plan to host in this newly inaugurated venue?
Dr. Nasser Ali Qaedi: The Kingdom of Bahrain had the official inauguration of the Exhibition World Bahrain in November 2022. The majestic exhibition centre which covers 95,000 square meters area was inaugurated on behalf of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, and Prime Minister.
The centre’s large capacity allows sit to host various events and exhibitions simultaneously, making it an appealing place for local, regional, and international exhibitions. It has 10 halls, multiple exits and entrances, storage facilities, and a wide range of services.
This establishment is a milestone in the Kingdom’s economic development and will play a crucial role in positioning Bahrain as a major global destination for regional and global conventions.
There are many events and exhibitions that will be held in this centre in 2023 like Jewellery Arabia, GHEDEX – Global Higher Education Show, Scent Arabia, Cityscape Bahrain, Manama Health Conference and Expo and the Autumn fair etc.
Travel And Tour World : Which markets (countries) do you next focus on after the successful inauguration of this state-of-the-art meetings venue?
Dr. Nasser Ali Qaedi: India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and has a large business sector, making it an important source market for MICE tourism. As travel and tourism has resumed in full-swing, Indian companies are increasingly organizing international business events, meetings, conferences, and exhibitions, creating a growing demand for MICE tourism.
We at the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) have been actively promoting Bahrain’s MICE facilities and attractions to Indian travellers, highlighting the unique offerings that the country has to offer which make it the ideal MICE choice. The destination has invested heavily in developing its MICE infrastructure over the years. It has modern convention centres, exhibition halls, and hotels that can accommodate large and small events. Several airlines operate direct flights between India and Bahrain from various cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore etc. This makes it convenient for Indian MICE travellers to visit Bahrain for events, meetings, or conferences.
For MICE travellers, Bahrain is the perfect destination because of its variety of tourist attractions, which include historical monuments, museums, retail centres, beaches, and water sports. The country has also invested in developing eco-tourism. The variety of offerings available in Bahrain provides MICE travellers from India with a unique and exotic destination that they can explore during their free time.
Travel And Tour World : Where do you wish to see Bahrain as a global destination in the next five years?
Dr. Nasser Ali Qaedi: Bahrain is set to become a global destination in the next five years. The destination’s tourism sector exceeded the targets last year set under its 2022-26 tourism strategy. Tourism revenues topped BD1.5 billion ($3.98 billion) in 2022, an increase of 50% compared to the target figure for the same year, which stood at BD1 billion.
According to the 2022 statistics, the number of visitors arriving for tourism purposes reached 9.9 million, up by 19% over the target number of 8.3 million visitors.
Inbound tourism in Bahrain has recovered during the year 2022 by 90% compared to pre-pandemic levels, outperforming the international recovery rate, which was estimated by the World Tourism Organization at a rate of 65%.
According to the country’s new 2022-2026 tourism strategy, Bahrain is expected to attract over 14 million tourists by 2026. The country is also committed to sustainable tourism practices, ensuring that our tourism industry benefits the local community as well as the environment.
As per what is planned in the tourism strategy 2022–2026, BTEA is undertaking several upcoming projects, mainly the Galali coast waterfront, Bahrain Bay beach, Alghous waterfront, Saada projects first phase, and Mantis Hotel and Resort in the Hawar Islands. Moreover, new hotels and resorts are in the pipeline with a total of 1,544 new rooms, which will certainly double the tourists’ traffic.
The Bahrain Grand Prix is one of the most successful investments in the Gulf and the world, being the world’s most-watched annual sport series and generating more than $2.5 billion in direct revenue since hosting the Formula One race till 2022. Hotels often run at 100% occupancy during Grand Prix week.
BTEA has been seeking to benefit from F1 week by organizing entertaining events such as bringing the world-renowned Imperial Russian Ballet (IRB) to the Grand Hall in Exhibition World Bahrain, Sakhir, stressing BTEA’s commitment to continue to attract the best entertainment and artistic shows from around the world to work towards achieving the kingdom’s tourism strategic objectives.