By Shane McGinley
Saudi visitors and businessmen are beginning to return to island state after months of political unrest
The hospitality sector in Bahrain is showing signs of recovery as Saudi Arabian tourists begin to return to the island state after months of political unrest, according to analysis by consultants at CB Richard Ellis.
The hotel sector in Bahrain was one of the main industries hit by the political unrest that engulfed the country in February and some hotels reported occupancy rates had fallen to as low as five percent.
The canceling of the Bahrain Grand Prix, which is worth around $600m to the Bahraini economy, also had a negative impact on the hotel and retail sectors.
During the unrest, hotels closed some of their restaurants and some staff were transferred to other properties across the Gulf, said Mike Williams, senior director at CB Richard Ellis’ office in Bahrain. However, he believed there are clear signs the country’s hospitality sector was already in recovery mode.
Two factors which have contributed to the rejuvenation of the Bahraini market have been the return of guests from Saudi Arabia and the lifting of travel international warnings, such as in the UK, which has encouraged the return of business travelers.
“We don’t really have international tourism at all in Bahrain so that has never been part of our market. It has always been Saudis at the weekend and businessmen during the week,” said Williams.
“The malls which been empty for the last three or four months, are heaving and that’s Saudi visitation, so it looks like the Saudis are back in large numbers,” he added.
The number of visitors crossing the causeway from Saudi Arabia has risen steadily during May and June and the malls are reporting an increase in business, the CBRE report added.
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