Bahrain: Cruise control
Bahrain is working to get a bigger slice of the lucrative cruise tourism segment, which has seen steady growth over the past few years. Tourism already makes a major contribution to the Kingdom's economy, with the industry generating around 12 per cent of GDP, according to the Ministry of Culture and Information, a figure the state and the sector want to see rise to 25 per cent by 2020. One area that has been targeted for development is the cruise segment. This season, running from November to May, more than 70 cruise ships are to berth in Bahrain, with each vessel estimated to bring in some US$300,000, representing a combined revenue of US$21 million or more for the national economy. Simon Mayle, the Middle Eastern marketing manager for Seatrade, a shipping industry publisher and events firm, says there is strong potential for cruise tourism in the Kingdom, especially given the cooperation between the public and private sectors. "The cruise industry in Bahrain is only just taking off and is likely to do very well in the future," he said in an interview with regional press on February 26. "Bahrain's tourism authority is already bringing together hotels, the port, tour operators, agents, airport and Customs to ensure a smooth stop for cruise lines." Bahrain will likely look to emulate neighboring Dubai in the cruise tourism segment, with the emirate realizing the sector's potential early, constructing the necessary infrastructure and delivering attractive marketing campaigns to lure in cruise lines. With the major lines basing their operations out of Dubai, overseas passengers fly into the emirate before setting sail, and fly out again at the end of their voyage. (Source: OBG)
Zubair plans hotel, complex
Diversified business group Zubair Corporation plans to build a new budget hotel in Muscat in addition to a retail-cum-residential complex, a top official said. "We are looking into it," director of tourism, Ziyad Al Zubair said. The group would, however, would not go ahead immediately due to the general slowdown in the real estate market in Oman but would start working on the projects once the market improves, he said. "It will be on mass scale and really depends on timing". The proposed hotel would target the value-conscious business traveler as well as leisure tourists and the group may even look at using the 'Traders Hotels' brand of the Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, the Hong Kong-based luxury hotel group, Zubair said. Traders Hotels branded properties are located in major business centers in Asia and the Middle East. Zubair Corporation already has a management contract with the Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts for its Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, a luxury resort with 680 rooms spread over 124 acres by the sea in Muscat. Zubair is looking at more than 20 per cent growth in its guest arrivals at its Barr Al Jissah property in 2010, Arbind K Shrestha, general manager of the resort said. The three-hotel resort had about 80,000 guest arrivals in 2009 as compared to 100,000 during the previous year as the global financial crisis affected the tourism industry globally, he added.