“With 43 destinations in 23 countries, the airline carried more than five million passengers in 2015 through its Bahrain International Airport hub,” revealed Ahmed Janahi, chief commercial officer, Gulf Air.
“The airline offers great connectivity and frequency from the GCC and the Middle East region – with various double and triple daily frequencies – which makes it easier for passengers to choose Bahrain as a city-break or a weekend gateway as well as MICE destination.”
As Janahi explained, some routes perform better than others as point to point services and some deliver more impressive results as transit and so-called feeding routes which support other sectors.
Speaking of the airline’s current network, Janahi added, “We have various strong routes in the GCC, Middle East, Indian subcontinent and Far East.”
To support the Kingdom’s socio-economic growth and foster relations with nations around the globe, the national carrier has outlined ambitious plans for the coming years as it gears up to take delivery of 45 Boeing and Airbus aircraft at a total worth of USD7.6 billion, from the second quarter of 2018 onwards.
The deals follow extensive negotiations with both manufacturers to revise the airline’s previous purchase agreements.
“The restructured orders will simplify Gulf Air’s future wide-body fleet to Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and ensure its future narrow-body fleet will largely focus on A320 Family aircraft,” explained Janahi, saying that the much-anticipated additions will provide the carrier with the requisite expansion capabilities for future network requirements, ensuring that Gulf Air maintains one of the youngest fleets in the region, while further improving operational performance and customer satisfaction.
To that end, in recent years, the airline has heavily invested in its product from aircraft cabin interior to business class seats, as well as in-flight entertainment. As Janahi put it, these initiatives enable Gulf Air to be a strong player in a competitive market.
“As the national carrier of the Kingdom, such investments and enhancements to products and services ensure good reputation and customer experience for passengers which will reflect on Bahrain’s own reputation of a hospitable and welcoming country,” concluded Janahi.
Bahrain is indeed embarking on new trails in order to enhance the destination’s appeal, further improve its global image, and ultimately broaden its visitor mix.
“The new brand identity Ours. Yours. Bahrain., followed by short- and long-term strategies [will] place Bahrain on the world map by not only showcasing its authentic culture and heritage but also the harmonious blend of an old and modern, business-friendly world and also driving more MICE business to the island,” elucidated Hamdoun.
The slogan, launched earlier this year, embraces the destination’s distinct characteristics and puts the Kingdom’s biggest assets, its people, at the heart of the strategy.
In order to give Bahrain a fresh new image that helps to better position the destination in line with the needs and preferences of today’s travellers, various new projects have been set out, including the revamp of access points for foreign visitors, the development of eight beaches and islands, all by 2018, in order to attract guests throughout the week instead of just during holidays and weekends.
With the launch of new programmes, the event sector is also expanding and to accommodate the higher volume of visitors, the tourism authority also aims to bring the country’s current hotel inventory from the current 17,000 rooms to 18,700 and to 20,000 by 2018, mostly with the addition of new four-star beach-front establishments.
As Hamdoun noted, Bahrain’s hotel market is indeed picking up after a period of limited development.
“With the opening of a number of key properties managed by international chains like Wyndham Worldwide, the market can expect a stronger growth,” corroborated Hamdoun.
As Alkhan furhter explained, BTEA’s grand vision is build on accessibility, attractions, accommodation and awareness, thus the name Four As, all of which refer to the aforementioned endeavours, setting out a clear roadmap for the years to come and bringing the Kingdom closer to its goal to attract 15.2 million visitors by 2018.