MANAMA: Bahrain’s economy is expected to get a boost of $2.9 billion, when travel restrictions are removed on May 17 allowing Saudis to enter Bahrain via the King Fahad Causeway.
This was revealed by Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry first vice-chairman Khalid Najibi, who is also board member of the King Fahad Causeway Authority.
Basing his expectation on average tourist spending in 2019, Mr Najibi said yesterday that thousands of visitors from Saudi Arabia are expected to cross the King Fahd Causeway to Bahrain – leading to a revival for the kingdom’s tourism, recreation, hospitality and retail sectors.
This comes after Saudi Arabia announced it will lift its suspension on citizens travelling abroad and open land, sea and air borders on May 17.
Saudi citizens who have received two vaccination shots, or one shot at least two weeks prior to travel, those who have recovered from coronavirus within the last six months and those who are aged under 18 will be allowed to travel.
Citizens under the age of 18 are exempt from the vaccination rule, but must present an insurance policy approved by the Saudi Central Bank that will cover the costs of any Covid-19 treatment outside the kingdom.
Saudis have largely been barred from travel since March 2020, when the country first banned all travel in and out of the country as Covid-19 began spreading worldwide.
In January, the Bahrain government announced that people arriving in the country from Saudi Arabia via King Fahad Causeway will no longer face a mandatory PCR test for Covid-19.
However, all who wish to enter the country will need to provide evidence of a negative result from a PCR test carried out at an approved laboratory in Bahrain or Saudi Arabia within 72 hours of arrival.
An original PCR certificate or a test result displayed through a mobile app will be accepted.
Bahrain received more than 12 million tourists in 2019, most of them from Saudi and other GCC countries.
According to Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) statistics, a daily average spend of BD80 per visitor was recorded that year.
The average tourist stay during 2019 at 2.85 nights was 16.8pc higher than the previous year.
Mr Najibi said that in 2019 the average daily influx of tourists via King Fahad Causeway amounted to 75,000.
He also called on all tourism, recreation, and commercial facilities to strictly adhere to all the preventative protocols and procedures as per the National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus, in order to curb the spread of Covid-19 and support national efforts to combat it.
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