Signs of travel recovery seen

TRAVEL normalcy is expected to pick up after Eid with visitor confidence slowly returning as nations step up vaccination efforts and use technology to tackle the pandemic, according to an industry expert.

Kanoo Travel president Nabeel Kanoo stated despite a delay in the initial recovery, there are good signs of the travel business picking up gradually with talks of an app to manage health credentials for travel.

“Travellers are looking forward to travel again as restrictions ease, and the vaccination efforts will further minimise the risk and elevate the level of individual confidence,” he told the GDN.

Eid Al Fitr next month will mark the end of Ramadan which starts in two weeks.


Mr Kanoo said it would be complex to balance opening borders with managing Covid-19 as the economy gets back on track.

“Travellers are making tentative plans even if they may have to cancel later,” he said, adding that travel corridors and digital health wallet are the future of the travel industry.

“Trip planning has become more complex with constant changes and uncertainty around regulations and restrictions, but I see domestic market picking up first with families and individuals opting for staycations.”

The GDN reported earlier that hotel occupancy levels had risen to their highest level since the pandemic last year, thanks to the Formula One race and travellers spending 14 days in quarantine in Bahrain before heading to Saudi Arabia.

Mr Kanoo said they were accommodating traveller requirements by using artificial intelligence in decision-making.

“We are offering services beyond just air, hotel and car, and have partnered to offer PCR test support and also quarantine packages.”

Meanwhile, Kanoo Travel said it had signed a five-year deal with Sabre after more than 25 years of partnership.

Sabre Travel Network Middle East vice-president Abdul-Razzq Iyer said they continued to work closely with travel agencies in Bahrain to better understand the market conditions.

“This week we launched Sabre New Airline Storefront, an industry-first capability that makes it easier to comparison-shop increasingly complex airline offers in the indirect channel,” he said.

“This will benefit airlines, agencies and travellers by promoting air shopping based on total offer value, not just the lowest fare, aiming to increase booking conversion and upsell through more relevant offers.”

Travel and tourism industry was one of the most affected sector since the outbreak of the virus last year, with Bahrain’s tourism industry suffering an estimated BD1 billion blow.

Kanoo Travel’s chief executive Zaeem Gama said according to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the travel and tourism industry is expected to pick up slightly this year.

“Bahrain has entered the first phase of its #We Will Meet campaign aimed at safely welcoming visitors back to the kingdom,” he said.

“The timing of the campaign launch coincides not just with the gradual loosening of flight restrictions, but also the phased re-opening (on May 17) of the King Fahad Causeway.”

Mr Gama added that Bahrain’s national carrier Gulf Air became the fourth Middle East airline to sign up for the trial phase of a digital travel pass launched to accelerate the revival of the global aviation industry amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pass will verify whether a passenger’s Covid-19 tests and/or vaccination certificate meet entry requirements at destinations which can be authenticated by the local authorities.




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