Bahrain expects second Saudi-Bahrain causeway to boost tourism

The proposed second causeway linking Saudi Arabia and Bahrain is likely to boost Bahrain’s tourism industry, Khalid Al-Rumaihi, CEO of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), told Arab News on the sidelines of the sixth Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Financial Forum.

Bahrain, with a population of 1.3 million, had 12.2 million visitors last year, up from 11.6 million the year before. An estimated 8 million came to Bahrain through Saudi borders.

“The causeway is a massive source of tourism, and it’s something we’d like to capture,” Al-Rumaihi said.

The EDB tracks the travel habits of those visitors, monitoring their length of stay. Statistics show that about 10 percent spend at least two nights in Bahrain.

“There’s huge potential to outgrow that. We’d like to see that grow from 10 to 15 or maybe 20 percent,” Al-Rumaihi said.

The second 87-km causeway will be parallel to King Fahd Causeway, and is set to comprise a GCC rail network as well.

Having rail connections across Jeddah and Riyadh is also expected to allow even more visitors from the western and central provinces to have better land access to Bahrain.

Bahrain is focused on being an attractive destination for tourists from countries in the region who wish to come on short vacations and spend less money than they would if they travelled outside the region.

Rather than investing more on reaching out to tourists from other regions such as Europe, Al-Rumaihi said his country is more interested in expanding on the 12.2 million that come from the GCC.

He sees potential to develop medical tourism and get patients from neighboring Saudi Arabia, as well as sports tourism. Bahrain hosts the Formula 1, which attracts a large number of car-racing fans.

According to the EDB, Bahrain allows around 100 nationalities the flexibility of getting an e-visa or a visa upon arrival at the airport.

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