Bahrain’s accomplishments in the field of business tourism, conferences and leisure were highlighted during a key meeting held in Saudi Arabia.

Tourism Minister Fatima Al Sairafi held talks with United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili.

The officials met during a ceremony in Riyadh on the occasion of reaching 100 million domestic and international tourists in Saudi Arabia last year.

Ms Al Sairafi underscored Bahrain’s commitment to advancing the global tourism sector and the substantial investments in the hospitality sector.

She said this was in line ‘within the framework of its Tourism Strategy 2022-2026’ to prioritise marine façades and activities among its key elements, along with business tourism, sports tourism, recreational tourism, medical tourism and cultural tourism, among others.

The Madrid-based UN agency promotes responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.

The discussion also delved into Bahrain’s preparations for staging the ninth edition of the World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism 2024, the largest global event in the field of food tourism. The kingdom was selected by UNWTO to host the event last year and it will be the first time it has been staged in the Middle East.

The culinary tourism spectacular is characterised by its visitor experience linked with food and related products and activities while travelling. The forum will involve related activities such as visiting local producers, participating in food festivals and attending cooking classes.

During the meeting with the UNWTO official, the minister highlighted initiatives currently taking place in Bahrain such as refining its tourism infrastructure, raising environmental standards and championing sustainability in the sector.

This strategic focus aims to position Bahrain as the ‘destination of choice’ on the global tourism map, catering to visitors of all ages, nationalities and interests, she added. The selection of Manama as the Gulf Tourism Capital for 2024 further accentuates this dedication, solidifying the city’s status as a pivotal hub in the region’s tourism landscape.

The Hotels and Restaurants sector experienced a significant annual real growth of 9.4 per cent in Q3 2023, according to Bahrain Economic Quarterly Report released by the Finance and National Economy Ministry.

According to the tourism survey carried out by the Information and eGovernment Authority and the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority, inbound tourism flows witnessed a Year-on-Year (YoY) increase of 7pc in the third quarter of last year.

Additionally, total inbound tourism receipts rose by 1.9pc YoY, reaching BD466 million. Notably, hotel occupancy for 5- and 4-star hotels saw a growth of 2pc, averaging 49pc in Q3 2023.

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