The Kingdom of Bahrain is keen to grow it destination footprint in the Indian market. The island nation in the Persian Gulf in Middle East is expecting around 11 million international tourists in 2019, but its share from India is small, just over 6,000 tourists majorly from weddings and MICE segment.
Speaking recently on the sidelines of SATTE 2020 in Delhi, Ali Hassan Follad, Advisor, Bahrain Tourism & Exhibition Authority (BTEA), said, “There is a lot to say about the historical relationship between Bahrain and India. Bahrain was the focal point between the East and the West for hundreds of years. The East was India, the West was Europe, and Bahrain was in the middle and that improved and developed the relationship between India and Bahrain from hundreds of years ago. We used to export pear and import gold from India. In addition to that our traditional values, foods, words and many other things are our shared heritage today. And therefore Indian feel at home in Bahrain. We have a vibrant Indian community in Bahrain which is part of our social fabric. We have the oldest Hindu temple of the whole region.”
BTEA tryst with the Indian market started a few years ago promoting Bahrain as a wedding destination. “We became very successful in our effort to first promote Bahrain as a wedding destination in India. This opened the other aspects of the Indian tourism market for us which is MICE. There is big potential to exploit India’s MICE segment. We are getting orders and enquiries, on a weekly basis, from the corporates through their agents as well as for groups and leisure. When Indian families, weddings and their guests or MICE groups come to Bahrain they feel at home and they become our tourism ambassador once back,” said Follad.
He opined that there is big potential for Bahrain to capture a large share of tourism market in India. “India is very important for Bahrain. Our number will jump from India thanks to the wedding and MICE segments as well as groups and leisure. We are trying our best,” said Follad.
Highlighting the headwinds that favours Bahrain as a destination of choice for the Indian travelers, Follad said, “Gulf Air, our national carrier, serves many cities in India. So connectivity is not an issue as we have direct connectivity from many cities in India which is very important. Visa facilitation is very efficient and supportive. We are very close with the Indian companies through our office in India. For leisure or individual, we have an efficient e-Visa that can be applied online and conveniently.” Gulf Air operates some 75 weekly flights from its Manama hub to eights Indian cities namely, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Cochin, Calicut and Thiruvananthapuram.
“We have the top class international hotel chains present in Bahrain, with beach access, city hotels and with different categories five, four, three or two star. We are in the process to have allocated public as well as private beaches. Indian food is easily available and there is no need to bring your own chefs, unless it is required. The restaurants, nightlife, shopping and so on, it’s all there,” he added.
There are three UNESCO recognised world heritage sites in Bahrain. Besides, there are many forts, mosques, the historical Bahrain Gateway, old souk, the Krishna temple and many attractions and things related to the Indian flavours.