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Sun 26 Aug 2012 05:31 PM

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Dubai firm upbeat on Bahrain tourism hopes

Unit of Dubai International Capital says Gulf kingdom offers opportunities despite unrest

Dubai firm upbeat on Bahrain tourism hopes
Holiday Inn Express in Bahrain.

A Dubai-based investment firm on Sunday said Bahrain's tourism sector was an attractive proposition despite the impact of the uprisings over the past 18 months.

Dubai International Capital, the international private equity arm of Dubai Holding, said it saw "growing opportunities" over the next decade.

Maissan Jalal Al Maskati, chairman of DIC unit Ishraq Gulf Real Estate Holding, said his upbeat verdict on the Gulf kingdom was a major reason why it had recently invested $40m in launching the first Holiday Inn Express in the country.

"Bahrain has been and continues to be an attractive tourism and hospitality market. In fact, our decision to make such a substantial investment was driven by our long term confidence in the market's historically healthy occupancy levels and hotel rates," he said.

Al Maskati added: "Further to the launch of four Holiday Inn Express hotels in Dubai, we are now delighted to be here and to have chosen Bahrain to launch our fifth and newest location.

"We look forward to building on this success and continuing to evaluate new investment opportunities in Bahrain in the future."

A recent research report published by the World Travel and Tourism Council forecast that the direct contribution to Bahrain's GDP of travel and tourism is set to grow by 3.7 percent per annum between 2012-2022 to BD769.4m ($2.04bn).

In 2022, travel and tourism investment is expected to top BD326.1m ($865m) compared to BD205.5m ($545m) in 2011.

Annual visitor figures are expected to reach over 8m in 2022, up from 5m last year.

Kamal bin Ahmed, acting chief executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), said: "It is very encouraging that the Holiday Inn Express has opened up in Bahrain. This represents a significant investment and is an indication of the faith in the strong fundamentals and growth prospects of the kingdom."

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