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Bahrain Expands Tourism Offerings with Multi-Country Travel Itineraries Ahead of Unified GCC Visa Rollout

By Anita Jain Shah | February 19, 2024

As Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) governments gear up for the implementation of a unified visa scheme aimed at facilitating international tourism across GCC countries, Bahrain takes proactive steps to enhance its appeal to travelers. In a strategic move to capitalize on the forthcoming unified visa scheme, Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) announces plans to introduce multi-country travel itineraries, ensuring immediate benefits for the Kingdom.

The GCC’s joint tourism strategy for 2023-2030 targets an annual 7% increase in inbound travel to the region. Visitor numbers soared last year, reaching 39.8 million, which represents a staggering 136.6% increase compared to 2021. GCC member states include Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, and Qatar. Soon travellers to any of these countries can visit other countries in the region with a single visa.

Sally Sedky, Head of Tourism Marketing at BTEA, reveals the ambitious initiative, stating, “While the unified GCC visa will be rolled out soon, BTEA is working closely with a select group of leading travel operators to launch multi-country itineraries encompassing Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. These itineraries will cater to segments such as families and groups.”

Intra-GCC tourism made up 29.7% of the total tourist numbers, a growth of 98.8% compared to 2021.

The proposed itineraries will commence with a 2-night stopover option, serving as an introduction to the region, with longer packages ranging from 6 to 10 nights, covering a combination of two countries. Sedky emphasizes that the aim is to provide diverse experiences, including cultural immersion, beach relaxation, urban exploration, and culinary delights.

Highlighting the significance of the Indian market, which ranks among the top three international markets for Bahrain, Sedky expresses confidence in leveraging this segment. “The rollout of these packages over the next few months will allow us to gauge their reception in the Indian market and tailor our offerings accordingly,” she adds.

With GCC markets already established as the primary source market for Bahrain, the Kingdom anticipates further growth and diversification of its tourism sector through innovative initiatives like these multi-country travel itineraries.

Udaiwi informed that a record 39.8 million tourists visited the GCC in 2022, a notable 136.6% increase from the previous year, while tourist spending surged to USD 85.9 billion, marking a 101.2% growth.

As the global tourism landscape evolves, Bahrain’s proactive approach underscores its commitment to staying ahead in the competitive tourism market and ensuring a memorable experience for visitors to the region. Stay tuned for more updates as Bahrain continues to shape its tourism offerings in anticipation of the unified GCC visa rollout.