Full recovery ‘expected only by 2024’

BAHRAIN’S hospitality sector could fully rebound only by 2024, while partial recovery could start by the fourth quarter of next year, according to a senior hotelier.

The forecast depends on how long the coronavirus crisis continues.

Four- and five-star hotels say they expected business to pick up in the last quarter of the year, but the delay in opening the King Fahad Causeway has pushed back their hopes.

“I have got numbers from the Bahrain Airport Company and they don’t foresee business to come back to the level of 2019 before 2024,” Gulf Hotel Bahrain Convention and Spa area general manager Fares Yactine said during the webinar.

“We will have to struggle for another four years to reach 2019 level which was also not a great year for the industry.”

Mr Yactine said city hotels with convention facilities will struggle more due to social distancing protocols.

“People are reluctant to come to Bahrain with companies not paying for airline tickets and accommodations, because meetings can be done virtually.”

However, InterContinental Regency area general manager Philipp Economou said he expects a rebound by the fourth quarter of next year.

“I see a recovery to start from Q4 October as people need to learn how to live and travel during the pandemic,” he said.

Elite Hospitality Group chief operating officer Sarosh Aibara said he anticipates business to pick up a year after all Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

“It’s a combination of operations of restaurants, room occupancy and opening of the causeway by January by when, in my opinion, we will see a gradual turnaround after a year.”

Miami Property managing director and owner of Swiss-Belhotel Seef Bahrain Fawaz Bokhowa said initial government support to help the sector was welcome, but he now hopes for a flexibility in regulations and waiver of government fees.

“Our worst-case scenario is if the reopening of the causeway from January 1 is further delayed due to the number of cases; that is a possibility.”

He said efforts should be stepped up on new attractions and family entertainment for the visitors especially when Saudi is aggressively promoting local tourism.

“We don’t want to be an alternative to Dubai but have our own flavour.”

Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry hospitality and tourism committee deputy chairman Ebrahim Kooheji said no events, exhibitions, weddings, receptions, or government functions meant zero income for the hotels.

The webinar participants added that opening of the new passenger terminal complex and the two Formula 1 races later this year would also help the battered sector and further boost traveller confidence.

The Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir will host the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2020 from November 27 to 29 followed by the Formula 1 Rolex Sakhir Grand Prix 2020 from December 4 to 6.

However, a decision is pending on whether the events will be open to spectators.

International tourist arrivals plunged 93 per cent in June when compared with 2019, according to the latest data from the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), showing the severe impact of the pandemic on the sector.

It documented a massive drop in international travel demand over the period January-June 2020, translating into a loss of 440 million international arrivals and about $460 billion in export revenues from international tourism.

However, the UNWTO states the Middle East has lost 19 million international tourist arrivals compared with the same period of the previous year.

 

Source: http://www.gdnonline.com/Details/872963/Full-recovery-%E2%80%98expected-only-by-2024%E2%80%99

 

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