Last year, investments in the Middle East and Africa declined dramatically by 82% Bahrain ranked first in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) for attracting the highest tourism capital investment in 2020, according to the FDI Intelligence Tourism Investment Report 2021.
Last year, significant investments from UAE-based property developers helped Bahrain’s tourism sector remain stable and created jobs during the worst ever period for the global tourism industry.
Bahrain secured $492 million of tourism capital investment in 2020, mainly made up of investments from the global property developer, Emaar Properties, and real estate developer Eagle Hills, despite the overall regional decline in capital investment in 2020.
Capital investment into MEA last year decreased by 82% from 2019, dropping to $1.6 billion. Moreover, the number of tourism jobs created in the region experienced such a drop, from about 17,400 in 2019 to 2,800 in 2020. Despite the pandemic, Bahrain ranked first in MENA for the number of tourism jobs created in 2020 and second for the number of tourism FDI projects.
Prior to COVID-19, Bahrain was attracting around a million visitors a month on average, and the tourism sector has contributed around 7% to GDP.
As the first economy in the GCC to diversify away from oil, the Kingdom has positioned its tourism offering to cater for a broader set of visitors through new attractions, hotels, restaurants, and retail.
During the pandemic, the country continued developing its strategy to grow its tourism sector, allocating more than $10 billion to tourism infrastructure projects, including the $1.1 billion modernisation of its international airport.
Recently, Edamah, the real estate arm of Bahrain’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, Mumtalakat, also announced several luxury property projects in the country.
Accor, a hospitality group with over 400 hotels, Minor Hotels, has a portfolio of 527 hotels and resorts, and Hilton DoubleTree unveiled plans to launch new properties in the Kingdom.
Bahrain is now home to global hotel brands, including Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, Rotana, Intercontinental, Wyndham and Sofitel.
Anticipating a significant rebound in tourism numbers, Bahrain is growing its portfolio of five-star hotels and is set to have around 9,300 rooms by the end of 2022. Bahrain is also anticipating a return in demand and growth for affordable beachfront brands.