Bahrain launches a comprehensive program to stimulate national tourism

The Bahrain Tourism Office and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA), recently launched a new marketing campaign called #WeWillMeet.
This new campaign aims to increase the number of tourists in the Kingdom after the coronavirus crisis, with a particular focus on those from Saudi Arabia.
The initiative, which will spread within a year, will be launched in three parts.
The first phase will be called “Inspirational” and will connect digitally to followers through interactive posts and live sessions; the second phase will be called “Encouragement” which will focus on promoting the Islands’ activities; the last phase will end with the “Transformation” phase.
The latter will involve face-to-face interaction with visitors when the events can be safely hosted again.

The campaign, which will be launched from the BTEA’s Instagram account @Bahrain.Ours.Yours., will focus on promoting both the attractions and the unique experiences of the kingdom, with the promise to leave visitors with unforgettable memories.

In addition to engaging with stakeholders in a number of sectors during these difficult times, the campaign also aims to re-energise the local tourism sector together with tourism-related industries, further developing this vibrant sector and increasing its contribution to the national economy.

Nader Al Moayyed, the CEO of BTEA, said in recent days about the project that: “We wanted to launch a proactive campaign to increase the number of visitors coming to the kingdom from all over the world and specifically target those coming from Saudi Arabia. The Saudis in fact constitute a significant part of the incoming tourism every year. Once the situation allows, we expect to attract more visitors as Bahrain has always been considered an ideal and convenient weekend for the Saudis both because of its proximity and the multitude of attractions and experiences we have to offer”.

The CEO then continued adding that “we opted for an end-to-end digital campaign, not only to target the masses that moved online as a result of the epidemic but also to tap directly into a new segment and try to attract the millennials and the Z generation who are particularly active on the internet. Since its establishment in 2015, the BTEA has directed and will direct all its efforts towards the continued marketing and promotion of Bahrain as a unique destination in the region, to create unforgettable experiences for tourists and to develop projects in line with its long-term tourism strategy under the aegis of “Ours. Yours”.

The aim of this project is to increase the contribution of the tourism sector to the national economy in line with the economic vision of the Kingdom, namely Vision 2030.

But what exactly is Vision 2030?

Vision 2030 or Economic Vision 2030 is a project launched in October 2008 by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. It is a global economic vision for the country that provides a clear direction for the continued development of the Kingdom’s economy and which also has the shared goal of building a better life for every inhabitant in terms of both standards of living and salary.

The aspiration is to move from an economy built on oil wealth to a productive and globally competitive economy shaped by the government and led by a pioneering private sector.

The launch of Vision 2030 followed four years of extensive discussions with a range of opinion leaders in the public and private sectors, including government institutions and organisations, as well as consulting firms and international bodies.

This economic vision sets out the aspirations for Bahrain’s economy, government and society according to three guiding principles: sustainability, competitiveness and equity.

Sustainability: The significant boost that has allowed the country’s development over the last two decades has been driven by the public sector. This model is running out as public finances become more rigid and competition increases in an increasingly interconnected and global economy. Therefore, according to plans, within 2030, the private sector should be able to drive economic growth in Bahrain independently.

Bahrain is already using its resources to invest in the future, improving human capital through education and training, particularly in the field of applied sciences.

In a time when modern technology and new competitors around the world are continuously reducing product life, entrepreneurship and innovation will ensure the sustainability of a vibrant private sector.

It is very important, however, to underline one of the key points of this Vision, which is that economic growth must never come at the expense of Bahrain’s environment and long-term well-being. So no effort will be spared to protect Bahrain’s environment and preserve its cultural heritage.

Competitiveness: one of the objectives of the project is to achieve a high level of competitiveness for the country in a highly globalized economy.

The increase in productivity will take place in a competitive environment that fosters economic growth, profitability and wages. Only high and constantly improving productivity can allow companies to increase their employees’ wages.

At the same time, however, higher productivity requires people with the right skills for each position.

For this reason, Bahrain is doing all it can to educate its people, preserving qualified personnel and trying to attract foreign workers with the skills that are lacking in the nation.

The cornerstone of the project is to make Bahrain a great place to do business for both local and foreign companies.

Therefore, in order to make the country attractive to investors in high value-added sectors, the Kingdom is trying to combine many factors: a high-quality public service, state-of-the-art infrastructure, an attractive living environment, truly affordable taxation and a lean public administration. The ideal characteristics that make a country “business-friendly”.

Equity: Bahrain’s vision is that the future economic success of the country will have a wider impact on society, creating a broad base of prosperity.

To ensure fairness, all transactions from both the private and public sectors must be transparent.

It is important that free and fair competition between public and private activities prevail, both in terms of job offers and land acquisition through auctions. The role of the government, in this sense, will be to provide the legal and regulatory framework to ensure consumer protection and fair treatment for business owners, including foreign investors. This means eradicating corruption and thus ensuring that laws are properly enforced.

Furthermore, equity in society means equal treatment for all under the law, in accordance with international human rights; equal access to services for all, especially education and health care; and support for the poorest through appropriate vocational training and a targeted social safety net.

Support for family stability and the achievement of gender equity should also be added in this regard.

These three guiding principles: sustainability, competitiveness and equity are moving in the same direction of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030) set by the United Nations in 2015.

Indeed, Vision 2030 aims to achieve most of the (SDGs) through high economic growth, balanced public finance management, improvement of human capital, equity and a highly competitive market. To achieve these objectives, the government has decided to activate four-year development plans, the current one started in 2019 and will end in 2022.

The government’s 2019-2022 action plan is, therefore, focusing on the fiscal balance between expenditure and revenue, continued positive economic growth, liquidity stability and sustainable development (through optimal use of resources). Support for the private sector should not be forgotten at all, so that it can become a driver of development and opportunities for both citizens and investors.

Data released by the Tender Board, an independent regulator of government procurement practices in Bahrain, revealed that the country is increasingly becoming an investment hub. Last year, in fact, the Kingdom won 1,730 tenders for a total value of $4.9 billion.

With 45% of the value, equivalent to $2.2 billion, the construction and engineering services sector took first place in the tenders awarded, while the oil and gas sector took second place with tenders valued at 24% of the total value, equivalent to $1.2 billion. With 13% of the bids awarded, worth $627 million, the aviation sector came third.

In the first quarter of 2020, Bahrain awarded 372 tenders for a total value at $740 million, with the procurement of equipment and materials accounting for 30% of the awarded tenders valued at $233 million.

The construction and engineering services sector accounted for 26% of tenders, valued at $188.7 million, followed by the aviation sector with 18%, valued at $132 million.

The fourth position was awarded to the oil (and gas) sector for a value of $113 million, corresponding to 15%. In fifth place was the service sector with 11%, equivalent to $82 million.

Shaikh Nayef Bin Khalid Al Khalifa, Chairman of the Bahrain Tender Board, said: “The new figures reflect the stability of tenders awarded in all sectors and strengthen the sustainability of Bahrain’s development services as part of the ongoing urban infrastructure expansion that the country is undertaking. In line with the goals of Bahrain Economic Vision 2030, these numbers encourage us to provide first-class services that satisfy and surpass the expectations of our citizens and align with our national priorities to achieve sustainability and encourage investment, leading the country’s economy towards evolution”.

The President of the Bahrain Tender Board then added that: “In an effort to improve market competitiveness, the Board sought to encourage a wider range of suppliers and contractors to participate in government tenders and bids last year”.

The Tender Board achieved excellent results in 2019 in terms of its selection of government tenders and auctions, with the number of public tenders constituting 70.5% of the 2019 total – up from 57% the previous year.

Shaikh Nayef Bin Khalid Al Khalifa also stated that: “the number of limited tenders decreased from 25% to 19.3% of the total number of tenders, while the contractual relationship was 10.3% in 2019, compared to 18% in 2018. This reflects the progress made by the Tender Board through the adoption of international best practices to increase its competitiveness and maximise the value of public funds spent”.

Like that of many other countries, Bahrain’s economy has felt the repercussions of the restrictive measures to defeat COVID-19.

On this point, however, “the Kingdom thanks to its flexibility will be able to recover quickly once the precautionary measures will be relaxed”.

This last statement was made by businessman Khalid Al Amin, during the “Economic Recovery” forum in Bahrain, organized last month (remotely) by the Proact International Consultancy, under the slogan “Post-Pandemic”.

On this occasion, a group of economists and businessmen discussed the path to be taken in the “reopening” phase in various sectors, such as banking, healthcare, nutrition, tourism, hotel, technology, communications and media.

Khalid Al Amin then stressed that Bahrain’s openness and the integration of its economy with others in the region and the rest of the world connected the acceleration of this recovery to the efforts made by the other countries.

By Michele Brunori

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