Development of Bahrain Destination from Russia
Bahrain is the smallest Arab state, and therefore cannot offer a lot of resorts or a variety of excursion programs. The destination is interested mainly as a beach one. The first Russian tourists appeared in Bahrain in 90-th thanks to Aeroflot flights. The modern history of Bahrain for Russian tourists is rather young and started with Art tour, Space travel and Quinta tour working with the destination for several years on base of regular flights of Gulf Air. Five years ago Gulf Air opened the program of regular flights on the destination Manama – Moscow. The flights from Domodedovo airport are fulfilled daily on board of the modern Airbus А320-200. The international airport in Bahrain is the hub for the region where for example Thailand, Manila and Maldives are situated. 30.10.2019 there was the celebration of 5-years anniversary of this Gulf Air flight program with Russian tour operators in Moscow.
The number of tourists to Bahrain is steadily growing. According to the FSB Border Service, for the first 9 months of 2019, 17 736 citizens of the Russian Federation came in Bahrain on direct flights, 86% of them with tourist purpose. In annual terms, the total volume of Russian citizens in Bahrain increased by almost 2 times, and the number of trips with tourism purposes increased by 2,2 times.
In the spring of 2017 Bahrain tourism office appeared in Moscow. Everything changed in 2018 when tour operator Coral launched the first charter program to this country from the end of October 2018, with an average of two weekly flights. Each flight carries 220 passengers staying in 30 hotels across the Kingdom. Coral travel became the first TO with charter program not only from Russia but from anywhere. So, Russians are the pioneers in Bahrain charter tourism development since 2018.
Director of Sales & Marketing GHANEM Khalil - NOVOTEL Bahrain Al Dana Resort says: «Last year was the first time Bahrain received Russian Chartered tourists. The season in general started from November 2018 and ends on 10th April 2019. Bahrain welcomed 10,075 tourists, the average length of stay was 9 nights. The total tourists’ nights were about 34,578 nights and almost 30 hotels & resorts accommodated these visitors with the total expenditure of tourists arriving within the program itself amounting to $19.1 billion. The total tourism expenditure estimated amount is BHD 7,217,730».
The winter season 2019-2020 Coral travel flies to Manama three times a week (last year, flights were 2 times a week). According to Marina Makarkova, the head of the Coral travel PR department, novelty, prices and leisure activities “make the destination attractive” and increase demand.
Today we can name several TO proposing the Bahrain tours on the base of regular flights. They are: Art tour, Space travel, Intourist, PAC, Pacs, ICS, Russian Express, Quinta, Mouzenidis travel and Tui. They are promoting the destination for TA by means of webinars, seminars and study tours. Thus in 2018 with the support of Bahrain tourism office 200 Russian travel managers visited the country.
According to experts, mostly tourists prefer to stay in Zallak, the center of Manama and Lake Amvazh. The destination is booked with good depth: the tour operators Russian Express has orders for April and Intourist - for March. In the top demand, of course, are the tours for the New Year’s dates. Thanks to the favorable prices in hotels of brand chains, the Russians are increasingly choosing hotels of category 5*. For example, among Tui Russia tourists, beach hotels of international brands like Jumeirah, Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Sofitel, Rotana are most in demand. As for meal’s system in hotels, most often tourists choose accommodation on the basis of breakfast or half board. “In Bahrain, the All Inclusive system, beloved by the Russians, is not yet so widespread,” said Intourist representatives. The most popular vacation time in Bahrain is 7 nights.
As experts say, this winter season, Bahrain could well compete with Qatar, Oman and the UAE. Holidays in hotels such as Four Season, Rotana, Jumeirah, Sofitel, Ritz will cost less than in hotels of the same chain in the Emirates. In turn, in Bahrain, unlike, for example, Qatar, at bars, hotels and tourist places alcohol is sold more freely. As the experts of Russian Express say, a certain audience of tourists will want to spend the New Year in Bahrain, but most of them will still prefer the well-known UAE.
What are the unique selling points of Bahrain so attractive for Russians? The answer is given by Marina Kuzina the representative of Bahrain tourism office in Russia: 1) Sun and clean and warm sea make this country comfortable all year round. 2) Hospitality with friendly attitude to foreigners. There are no strict prohibitions here as in the nearby Arabian countries. 3) Secure country the relaxed way of life. 4) Country with rather compact territory but with wide opportunities to attract guests of different age categories of different interests.
The aim of the tourist office of Bahrain for future is not only to increase the number of tourists, but to promote the destination for different tourists’ categories. Everybody knows it as “beach and sun” destination, but sport tourism is very important here as there are the unique track for Formula I race in the desert, kite surfing, wind surfing, snorkeling and diving. There is the “Dive Bahrain” park with Boeing 737 on the depth of 18 meters. PADI divers can explore it even inside. One can try to find shells with the pearls here too. This park was opened only in September 2019. Bahrain has long history of 4000 years, and there are many artifacts in museums and ancient villages, local and international cuisine will be interesting for gourmets. Bahrain is the stopover point towards Middle East and Asian destinations. So, one can combine it with some other country to multiply the emotions. On 22.03.2020 Formula I Gran Prix will take place in Bahrain. Art tour and Space travel have the unique early booking proposals. And 7 best sellers from Russian TA will be invited to visit Bahrain next year. Another task is to make the destination affordable not only for Moscow. Flydubai air company and Turkish airlines can give good opportunities for the guests from the other Russian cities and towns. Welcome to the Kingdom of Bahrain-the pearl of Persian Gulf and explore it Yourself.