Wedding blues as new COVID curbs hit hotels in Bahrain

Hotels and restaurants will continue to adhere the 30-person limit indoors and abide by stricter outdoor regulations

  
Hotel Room. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Hotel Room. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Getty Images

Hoteliers have been left facing a flood of cancellations following the introduction of new Covid-19 operational restrictions.

A directive circulating yesterday from the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) asked hotels and tourism facilities to stop hosting gatherings, including popular outside weddings.

The circular stated that the decision had to be taken to curb another spike in viral infections.

“All hotels, tourism establishments and facilities must adhere to all relevant public health regulations, which amongst other measures, prohibit hosting gatherings, events, weddings and conferences in hotels, restaurants halls, lounges, event houses, whether indoors or outdoors,” stated the circular.

The document does not mention any timeframe regarding how long the rules will remain in place.

Gulf Hotel Bahrain Convention and Spa area general manager Fares Yactine said the reason for the directive was understood.

“We respect the authorities’ decision due to a spike in the number of new cases, but I feel there should be clear guidelines outlining the rules for hosting weddings or organising events in the future,” Mr Yactine told the GDN yesterday.

“We have cancelled six weddings this month and now a further nine weddings that were scheduled for next month.

“I hope the authorities relax the rules in the coming weeks. That will help hotels.”

Hotels and restaurants will continue to adhere the 30-person limit indoors and abide by stricter outdoor regulations, including social distancing protocols.

Hosting events outside in the grounds, pools and beaches has proved popular in recent weeks with wedding planners and helped many hotels claw back some of the losses they have suffered as a result of pandemic restrictions.

Another senior hotelier, who manages different properties in Bahrain, said they too were dealing with cancellations.

“We had quite a few weddings lined up but now we have to cancel them,” he told the GDN, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

“The sector is among the worst affected due to the pandemic and the recovery keeps getting pushed further back.”

The GDN reported that hoteliers and travel agents had to cancel special festive events, while travel agents were expecting air travel to pick up during the festive season.

However, that did not happen after some countries closed their borders after the emergence of a new variant of the coronavirus last month.

“The government has no other option but to impose the new restrictions because there were violations in the past that resulted in the increase in the number of cases we are seeing now,” said Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) hospitality and tourism committee deputy chairman Hameed Al Halwachi.

“Unfortunately some outlets during New Year gatherings violated the law and they were fined and shut down.”

Mr Al Halwachi believes the authorities were also taking precautionary measures ahead of the reopening of King Fahad Causeway for Saudi citizens from March 31, followed by the holy month.

“They need to control the situation ahead of reopening of the causeway as we expect an influx of Saudi visitors and then Ramadan will follow.

“I understand hotels have had to cancel events, conference or weddings now which they thought would generate much needed revenue.

“I think 2021 now looks even more challenging for the hospitality sector than last year.”

sandy@gdn.com.bh

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