Bahrain on the up

With the Kingdom joining the illustrious international ranks of Formula One, the number of tourists visiting the Kingdom is set to drastically increase compared to the modest rise in 2002.

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By  John Irish Published  September 14, 2003

The number of visitors to Bahrain increased by just 200,000 in 2002 compared to 2001 after officials from the Kingdom’s Ministry of Tourism announced that the state attracted 4.6 million visitors last year.

With the forthcoming World Tourism Organisation’s 24th meeting of the commission for the Middle East, scheduled to take place between September 22-24 in Manama, Bahrain, Mubarak Saad Al Atwi, assistant undersecretary for tourism affairs, added that he expected those figures to increase by 5% this year.

“More than a million tourists visited Bahrain during the first quarter of 2003,” he said.

The Gulf island is hoping that the WTO conference will give it increased global exposure by highlighting some of the US $2 billion- worth of ambitious tourism projects aimed at diversifying its economy.

At present over 90% of visitors to the Kingdom come from neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

“The tourism industry plays a major role within the Gulf region. Bahrain is currently developing a strategic plan, which includes developing an infrastructure that is conducive to tourism, allowing the Kingdom to attract more tourists each year,” said Atwi.

150 delegates, including regional tourism ministers are expected to attend the WTO meeting, which will focus on the current state of the tourism industry in the Middle East and North Africa and examine how it can attract more visitors to the region in the future.

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