Powerful Growth in Bahrain’s Tourism and Leisure Sector
Tourism is a crucial part of Bahrain’s economic evolution as the country has established a strategic focus on developing a robust tourism sector based on diversified hotel products, an increasing variety of restaurant, retail, and entertainment options, and a long-established culture of hospitality. Strong investment growth in the sector has been fuelled by a significant increase in the number of visitors, which now exceeds 12 million per year. The sector’s growth is encouraged through the global network of tourism promotion offices and an increased focus on inbound tourism by Bahrain tour operators and the country’s national airline. These efforts are building Bahrain’s reputation globally as a unique tourism destination and has ranked Bahrain as the number one expatriate destination globally in the 2017 InterNations Expat Survey.
More than US$ 10 billion will be pumped into new developments over the next five years, resulting in several new five-star and four-star hotels, and beachfront resorts. Meanwhile, of the country’s US$ 32 billion infrastructure investments, US$ 13.1 billion is directly related to tourism.
Recently, the Bahrain EDB collaborated with the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority to develop the tourism brand 'Ours. Yours. Bahrain', which has become recognised as a prominent tourism brand in the GCC. The aim was to unify Bahrain’s tourism and hospitality sector under a single proposition and as a means of presenting Bahrain as a superb tourist destination, with leading initiatives to improve tourism investment opportunities in the country.
In 2017, many brands seized the opportunities available to them. Bahrain welcomed the arrival of world-class hospitality and lifestyle projects such as Wyndham Garden Suites, Wyndham Grand, Ibis Styles, and The Avenues Mall, which is expected to generate more than 4,000 job opportunities alone. In the retail sector, Bahrain has attracted many more well-loved brands, including Five Guys, Slider Station, and Fire Grill.
Some notable companies that have invested in the Tourism and Leisure sector in 2017
Regulation and Legislation
Tourism is a key sector to support Bahrain’s commitment towards sustainable economic growth. A conducive regulatory environment is crucial to support greater innovation and competitiveness in the sector which is promising exponential growth.
Real Estate Regulatory Authority
In October 2017, Bahrain announced a draft decree to establish the Real Estate Regulatory Authority, which will closely support the Kingdom’s Real Estate Regulatory Law. The new authority will work to strengthen the real estate investment environment and underscores the country’s ongoing commitment to continued economic growth.
Gulf Air Visa Service
Bahrain’s national carrier, Gulf Air, has partnered with VFS Global, the world’s biggest visa service provider, to offer visas online to passengers of the airline who are flying to Bahrain from anywhere in its international network. The move makes the process of obtaining a visa to enter the country simpler and more convenient, encouraging more frequent trips into the Kingdom.
New Tourist Visa Policy
The revision of the Entry Visa Policy allows leisure and business visitors to Bahrain to enjoy lower visa fees and extended stays. Bahrain now offers visas on arrival to 67 countries and e-visa services to an additional 114 countries.