Bahrain registers significant growth in hotel occupancy

BAHRAIN has registered a significant growth in hotel room occupancy in the first five months of this year, according to a regional report.

EY’s Middle East and North Africa (Mena) Hotel Benchmark Survey Report ranked Bahrain the second Gulf country, behind Saudi Arabia, to record growth in the hospitality industry, at a rate of 0.3 per cent compared to the same period last year.

The report showed that the country’s hotel occupancy level from January until May was 52.1pc compared to 51.8pc last year, while the average room rate was BD61.

The Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR), which calculates the total room revenue for a stay, during the same period was BD32.

Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Jordan and Dubai – which are popular tourist and business destinations – recorded negative growth from January until May, compared to the same period in 2018.

The report’s data also showed that Bahrain maintained a good occupancy rate from November last year until April this year, and had a stable average room rate from September last year until April this year.

Four and five-star properties in the country did, however, report a slump in May this year, which coincided with Ramadan, with occupancy level registered at 28.5pc compared to 38.2pc in May last year.

Destination management company Visit Bahrain founder and chief executive Kyriako Zarkadas said the country has registered record numbers in terms of international tourist arrivals which has given a fresh boost to the hospitality sector.

“It’s been record-breaking from January until June in Bahrain compared to the previous years in terms of the increase in the number of international tourists,” he told the GDN.

“This year for the first time we welcomed between 4,000 and 5,000 Russian tourists who spent about BD3 million – that is a big contribution to the hospitality sector.”

Another new trend reported this summer was people preferring to stay in Bahrain rather than travelling abroad, according to Mr Zarkadas.

“We are seeing a daily 200pc increase in sightseeing tours as well from international tourists of which 35pc are those who visit for business events in Bahrain,” he added.

“These are exciting times as everything is incredibly aligned to boost the sector and we expect more international tourists to visit Bahrain this year.”

Similar views were echoed by Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry hospitality and tourism committee member Hameed Al Halwachi, who added that the challenge was to maintain occupancy rates during weekdays.

“I think the influx of Russian tourists this year has helped fill hotels and apartments,” he said.

“Our challenge remains to maintain occupancy levels during weekdays because on weekends due to GCC visitors the situation is well managed.

“We have also noticed that purchasing power in the region has generally declined and people have opted not to travel abroad for summer holidays, but select alternative destination like Bahrain to visit multiple times on weekends.”

He also added that four and five-star properties were doing well so far this year, despite the 5pc Value Added Tax rolled out in January.

According to latest statistics, more than 3.2 million tourists visited Bahrain in the first quarter of this year, while the number of international arrivals reached 3.5m – a 3.1pc increase from last year.

The real GDP share of hotels and restaurants also increased by 8pc, a nominal GDP increase of 7.1pc.

Last month, Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority chief executive Shaikh Khalid bin Humood Al Khalifa said 22 new hotels were scheduled to open in the country in the next four years.



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