Bahrain Economic Development Board to help plug midscale hotel market gap

A decrease in consumer spending is behind the drive for more midscale properties, says the Board’s director Ali Murtaza

 Ten million of the 12 million vistors to Bahrain are Saudis.
Ten million of the 12 million vistors to Bahrain are Saudis.

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) has identified a gap in the country’s beach front, midscale hotel sector, Ali Murtaza, director – real estate investments business development, said, in an exclusive interview with Hotelier Middle East at the recently held Arabian Hotel Investment Conference in Ras al Khaimah, UAE.

Murtaza said the reason behind the need for more midscale hotels in the Bahrain is because GGC consumers have less “leisure spends caused by recent, region-wide changes to oil prices and the removal of subsidies which has seen an increase in utility  bills.”

Despite the reduction in spending power, Murtaza said consumers, who are mainly Saudis, are still visiting Bahrain but are seeking less expensive accommodation.

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“We [Bahrain] get about 12 million visitors a year for a population of 1.5 million. Ten million of those visitor are Saudis. Bahrain is a drive-through destination [for Saudis] and despite their reduced spending power, they have not stopped coming,” he added.

Murtaza went on to say how the main strategy for the EDB is “coming up with mid-scale, beachfront developments."

“When we look at the landscape of Bahrain, we have fantastic Four Seasons and Ritz Carltons, and five star properties on the beach. But in the mid-scale level, we realized there’s a shortage.”

Murtaza also said how EDB is currently working on government-led masterplans in addressing the market gap through looking at the full development of the coastline, which is the west coast of Bahrain 15 minutes from the King Fahd Causeway, a series of bridges and
causeways connecting Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

“[This development] will cater to four, three-star and boutique hotels overlooking the beach,” he said.

He also said that [Bahrain] is looking to expand its network of visitors and too aid this, that the Bahrain Tourism Authority has opened six international offices, including in Russia, the Ukraine, Germany and China.

“we’re looking at bringing all that family market trends in addition to catering towards the existing growing Saudi visitations to Bahrain,” he added.

The EDB is a semi government entity chaired by His Excellency the Crown Prince of Bahrain, Prince Salman. Murtaza highlighted how the Board consists of relevant ministers on the commerce side, half of whom are “top businessmen and families”.

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