Eid windfall for hotels as number of tourists surge

HOTEL revenues during the Eid Al Adha holiday are expected to cross the BD4 million mark due to a surge in the number of tourists, according to experts.

This is mainly because Saudi Arabia, and some other Gulf states, started their Eid holiday on August 17, resulting in large numbers of visitors flocking to Bahrain.

Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry hospitality and tourism committee member Hameed Al Halwachi told the GDN yesterday that the occupancy rate in four and five-star hotels reached over 90 per cent in the last week, with some properties operating on full capacity.

“The estimated hotel revenues during long Eid holidays or special events, such as the Formula One, are between BD3.2 million and BD3.7m, but this Eid break we expect the number to cross BD4m because of a surge in bookings,” said Mr Al Halwachi.

“The occupancy levels in four and five-star properties have been over 90pc, with some outlets running on full capacity.

“Compared to last time, I think the revenues have crossed BD4m so far with high levels of occupancy in most of the outlets.”

He explained that this has had a domino effect on the entire tourism sector in the country with fully booked restaurants, cinemas and car rental firms since last weekend.

He said many Saudi families also started their break before Eid Al Adha because their female relatives have been attending driving lessons in Bahrain.

The GDN reported in June that driving instructors in Bahrain were inundated with requests to train Saudi women as the ban on driving was lifted on June 24.

Women in Saudi Arabia can either undergo driving lessons and receive their permits or simply replace their recognised international driving licences – such as the ones received in Bahrain – with Saudi ones.

“I have come across several Saudi families who booked hotels for their female members so that they can attend driving classes in Bahrain in order to obtain a driving licence – this is something new and has definitely helped with the bookings,” added Mr Al Halwachi.

“The next step for us is to construct budget hotels near beaches to attract more tourists that will help the tourism sector because Bahrain has everything to offer right now from malls, restaurants and family activities.

“The area where we continue to lag behind, though, is the low level of Bahrainisation in the sector, which is about 10pc and this needs to be tackled by encouraging citizens to take up hospitality jobs.”

Elite Hospitality Group chief operating officer Sarosh Aibara also confirmed that four and five-star properties in the country witnessed a surge in bookings this Eid holiday.

“The general feedback from the industry is that there is a high rate of room bookings that has certainly helped,” he said.

“Saudi visitors stayed longer this time because they booked rooms a week before Eid and continued to stay throughout until this weekend.

“Families booked in advance while there was also good last minute bookings by single travellers.”

Bahrain has doubled the contribution of tourism to its gross domestic product (GDP) as the government is pumping more than $13 billion in infrastructure projects as part of efforts to develop the sector.

The latest EY Middle East Hotel Benchmark Survey, covering the first quarter of the year, stated that Bahrain registered a 10.6pc increase in room occupancy from 49.1pc in the same period last year to 59.7pc.

sandy@gdn.com.bh

Source: http://www.gdnonline.com/Details/388056/Eid-windfall-for-hotels-as-number-of-tourists-surge

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