On the occasion of Arab Tourism Day, the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) held a celebration under the patronage of the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Mr. Zayed Bin Rashid Al Zayani.

The event was attended by several dignitaries in the Arab tourism sector, including Dr. Bandar bin Fahad Al Fuhaid, and the CEO of the Arab Organization for Tourism and the Executive Chairman of the BTEA, H.E Shaikh Khaled bin Humood Al Khalifa, along with several representatives in the tourism sector including hotels and restaurants.

The event, held at the Arcapita building in the Kingdom of Bahrain, shed light on key action points, outcomes and conclusions that were raised in the former workshop entitled “Challenges and Opportunities for the Tourism Sector”, which revolved around several topics, primarily focusing on tourist attractions, accommodation, marketing, and further investment in the tourism sector, specifically marine tourism. Further to this, the event aimed at stimulating Pan-Arab tourism, in addition to commemorating the Arab traveler Ibn Battuta, along with developing joint Arab tourism programs in order for the Arab region to emerge as a common unified tourist destination.

Commenting on the event, H.E Mr. Zayed Al Zayani the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism said: “Our celebration of the Arab Tourism Day is part of the keenness of BTEA to tackle regional initiatives aimed at enhancing the tourism sector, which stems from our relentless efforts to achieve great leadership, along with the vision of the Kingdom of Bahrain to create a more diversified portfolio of income; gaining independence by allowing the non-oil sectors, such as tourism, to become one of the main sources that contribute to supporting the national economy; thereby contributing to strengthening the status of the Kingdom of Bahrain as a leading tourist destination at both regional and international levels.”

H.E The Minister added: “The tourism sector in the Kingdom of Bahrain is viewed as one of the leading economic sectors in terms of its contributions to both GDP along with increasing employment rates; in addition to its direct role in achieving sustainable development objectives. The contribution of tourism to the Kingdom’s GDP has been estimated at 6.8% in 2017, and we plan to increase the proportion of this contribution to the tourism sector in the years to come. According to the latest official statistics, tourism spending in 2017 amounted to more than 1.6 Billion BD equivalent to 4.2 Billion USD at an annual growth rate of 8.9%.”

Further to this, the CEO of BTEA, H.E Shaikh Khaled bin Humood Al Khalifa, announced the latest tourist developments in the Kingdom of Bahrain include an unprecedented growth rate in 2017, with an increase of 1.2 million visitors, while the number of visitors reached 11.4 million, an increase of 11.9%; along with an increase of 1.3 million nights in tourist nights. Further to this, an increase in tourism revenues of 135 million BD from last year, reaching an estimated BD 1.6 billion in 2017.

Shaikh Khaled bin Humood Al Khalifa also pointed out that the number of leisure trips reached about 6.5 million trips, representing 57% of total trips to Kingdom Bahrain in 2017. Shopping followed close by at 23%, followed by trips to visit family and friends by 9%. Moreover, the percentage of trips for business and conferences was estimated at around 6%, while other purposes (such as health and medical care, education and training, and transit) accounted for 5% of total trips.

Adding to this, he stated: “The Arab Tourism Day is one of the most important regional initiatives aiming to achieve the objectives set out by the BNA, by developing a lot of fruitful investment opportunities in order to enhance the tourism sector, and thereby contribute to supporting the national economy effectively. I would like to invite all institutions working in the private sector to join in coordinating and launching tourism initiatives that will stimulate tourism among Arab countries and develop their various sectors.”

The statistics also revealed that in particular, Arab tourists accounted for the highest bracket of spending, wherein the average spending of a 5 day trip was at least 4500 USD, far exceeding the amount spent by foreign tourists, in comparison to an expenditure of no more than USD300 for a trip of the same; further highlighting the importance of the development of inter-Arab tourism.