Manama has been named the Gulf Tourism Capital for the year 2024. The announcement was made at the seventh meeting of the GCC Tourism Ministers, held in the city of Jabal AlAkhdar in the Sultanate of Oman. The meeting was organised and hosted by Oman’s Heritage and Tourism Ministry and supervised by the GCC General Secretariat.
Bahrain earned this prestigious designation due to its outstanding contributions and discernible impact on elevating the Gulf tourism sector. Recognised for its proactive understanding of the significance of tourism as a major non-oil economic contributor, Bahrain’s efforts stood out in promoting collaborative endeavours within the Gulf tourism industry. The country’s foresight in recognising tourism’s potential as a vital sector capable of driving economic growth and ensuring sustainable development played a significant role in this decision. Industry and Commerce Minister and Acting Minister of Tourism Abdulla bin Adel Fakhro led the Bahrain delegation participating in the ministerial meeting, along with Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) chief executive Dr Nasser Qaedi.
“We take immense pride in this achievement in the Kingdom’s tourism sector, which stands as a testament to a series of successful tourism endeavours at local, regional, and international levels,” said Dr Al Qaeid.
The kingdom has positioned the tourism sector at the forefront of its developmental agenda. This strategic position acknowledges the sector’s pivotal role in driving sustainable development. Under this vision, substantial investments have been channelled into expanding tourism infrastructure, refining tourism services, and establishing high-quality facilities. These endeavours are aimed at attracting a greater influx of tourists worldwide.”
This consensus among GCC nations underscores the kingdom’s steadfast dedication to bolstering tourism’s competitiveness throughout the region. The aim is to establish this sector as a cornerstone supporting the Gulf economies and a substantial contributor to the national income of the region’s countries. It also shines a spotlight on the pivotal role played by significant investments in enhancing tourism infrastructure and elevating environmental standards and sustainability in hotels and tourist establishments.
“Collaborating closely with its public and private sector partners, BTEA persistently crafts success stories, aiming to fulfil the ambitious tourism goals outlined in the 2022–2026 strategy,” added Dr Qaedi.
“This intensive effort has transformed Bahrain into a beacon of adaptability, diversity, and consistent tourism growth within a remarkably brief timeframe. This achievement was evident last year when the Kingdom welcomed approximately 10 million tourists, surpassing the targeted numbers by an impressive 20 per cent. We assure our GCC visitors of an exceptional tourism year ahead.
Anticipate the launch of several high quality tourism initiatives and an array of exclusive travel packages tailored for GCC citizens and residents; these offerings are meticulously designed to attract a broader audience, enhancing tourism appeal across all sectors.” He noted that Bahrain remains unwavering in its commitment to foster a flourishing and dynamically expanding tourism sector, not only within the GCC but also to bolster its standing as a prominent hub for regional and international tourists. In the coming months, there are exciting prospects on the horizon, with the unveiling of additional tourism initiatives and captivating entertainment festivals.
Meanwhile, in the official meeting, Mr Fakhro stressed the importance of such official meetings and the opportunities they provide to share experiences and innovate solutions to develop this vital sector while taking advantage of the experiences of member countries to enhance the contribution of tourism to the GDP, ensuring strengthening of the bonds of cooperation and joint coordination among member states.
He also underlined that the designation of Manama as the Gulf Tourism Capital for the year 2024 affirms the significant role of the kingdom in supporting integrated tourism efforts at the regional level, encouraging inter-tourism among GCC countries, coordinating with various regional and international tourism entities, the travel, culture, and entertainment sectors, developing the industry at the Gulf level, and supporting the transition to sustainable tourism based on international best practices. He emphasised the importance of this meeting in shedding light on Bahrain’s remarkable accomplishments and initiatives in elevating the tourism landscape, not only within the Gulf region but on a global level as well. He underscored the substantial investments made to enhance the tourism infrastructure, advance environmental standards, and promote sustainability in hotels and tourist facilities. These efforts have played a pivotal role in increasing the influx of international visitors, positioning Bahrain as one of the most appealing tourist destinations.
The meeting included a number of important priority topics on the agenda, the foremost of which is accelerating the pace of recovery of the tourism sector worldwide, increasing the flexibility of Gulf tourism and its ability to face various challenges in the future, while seeking ways to ensure the sustainability of the sector and having constant followup with Bahrain to implement these decisions provided by the Committee of the GCC Tourism Ministers.
Mr Fakhro underscored the necessity of cultivating a conducive environment that nurtures SMEs within the tourism sector. He also advocated for the activation of sustainable tourism strategies on both regional and global scales to underpin the transformation of Gulf tourism destinations into more sustainable entities.