By Nayla Barakat
Manama, Apr. 11 (BNA): The tourism sector has emerged as one of the key contributors to the Kingdom of Bahrain’s economy. The contribution of tourism sector to the GDP surpassed 6 per cent in 2018 compared to 4.6 per cent in 2017.
Shaikh Khalid bin Humood Al Khalifa, CEO of Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) told the participants of the Top CEO Conference and Awards, held at Al Areen Palace & Spa, that the tourism sector has witnessed a sustained growth over the past many years.
The panel discussion titled "Bahrain’s growth dynamics," was addressed by Shaikh Humood, BTEA's CEO, Jassim Al-Seddiqui, CEO of Abu Dhabi Financial Group; Rishi Kapoor, Co-CEO Investcorp; Dr Jarmo Kotilaine, Chief Economist EDB and Khalid Al Saad, CEO, Bahrain Fintech Bay.
"Previously, there was no knowledge or database to gauge the impact of tourism sector on the national economy, secondly, the overall footprint of tourism offices globally was very minimal," Shaikh Humood, said.
GFH Financial Group (GFH) brought this year’s Top CEO Conference and Awards to the Kingdom of Bahrain.
"For example, earlier, there were only four tour operators in the UK who were selling Bahrain destination, but now the same number has surged to 68 and over 9800 tour packages are available for British tourists. This initiative of enhancing the footprint of tour operators has yielded positively making it possible for contributing BD5.2million to the economy directly last year," he said.
Shaikh Humood added that Bahrain had launched two charter flights weekly to Moscow which brought over 7800 tourists from Russia with direct contribution to the economy of BD5.3million during the last fiscal year.
BTEA CEO also explained that the four ‘As’ Strategy stands for access, awareness, attraction and accommodation, adding that the implementation of this initiative has brought very encouraging results.
"BTEA has opened six new offices across the globe, and efforts are being exerted to optimise the tourist traffic from the largest economy in the region, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. "The Saudi-Bahrain causeway is very crucial for tourists visiting Bahrain and BTEA, in co-operation with other departments, is working hard to facilitate inbound tourism."
Dr Jarmo Kotilaine, Chief Economist of EDB, highlighted the salient features of Bahrain’s economy, which, according to him, is well diversified with less than 18% dependence on the hydrocarbons.
He argued that the age of subsidies is coming to an end and competitive economies cannot afford to rely on subsidies.
Jassim Alseddiqui, CEO Abu Dhabi Financial Group, said that the private sector continues to be a key for the future development of the region. He dispelled the impression that the introduction of the value added tax (VAT) which UAE had introduced almost two years ago and Bahrain from January 1st, 2019, said there is no second opinion about the impact of the VAT on the private sector but businesses should adopt to new realities.
Rishi Kapoor, Co-CEO Investcorp, said the private sector has a very crucial role in creating the sustainable economic development. He said a frictionless support of financial sector can help in creating a competitive economic climate for the private sector.
Khalid Al Saad, CEO, Bahrain Fintech Bay, said fintech is a reality and the adapting to technology will help bring more efficiency, transparency and competitiveness in the financial sector.
"Adapting to the fintech is not an easy task as it also belongs to change to the mindset in addition to bring new rules and regulations for the use of fintech.
Other plenary, panel and breakout sessions looked at a ring of critical topics shaping the regional economies included: "Future of Growth Amid Volatility", "Future of Women Business Leadership", "Structural Reforms and Direct Investment", "The Blockchain Opportunity" and "The Human Factor and Tech Innovation", among others.
The top CEOs were awarded during the closing dinner of the conference and awards were judged in cooperation with top ranking international business school INSEAD and Hawkamah governance institute.
W H Q
BNA 1446 GMT 2019/04/11