Manama: Around 5.6 million tourists visited Bahrain in the first six months of this year, the head of the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) has said.
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The figure represents a 14 per cent increase over the same period last year, Shaikh Khalid Bin Humood Al Khalifa said as he reviewed Bahrain tourism indicators.
The tourists spent 631.4 million Bahraini dinars (Bd), an average of BD77 per tourist per day.
Shaikh Khalid said that the average daily spending was BD65 in the first three months, but went up to BD92 in the following trimester.
He attributed the difference to changes in the Saudi tourism trends. Bahrain welcomed 6.1 million visitors in the first six month of 2017, he added.
King Fahad Causeway, Bahrain’s only terrestrial link, was the major route used by tourists to arrive in Bahrain with 4,925,698 arrivals, a 13 per cent increase compared to 2016.
Bahrain International Airport recorded 616,230 arrivals, a 23 per cent increase compared to the previous year — 43,191 visitors arrived through the seaports, marking a 44 per cent increase.
Shaikh Khalid attributed the increase in the number of port arrivals to new initiatives by the BTEA and to the fact that Bahrain joined Cruise Arabia.
The number of nights spent in Bahrain was 4.7 million with an average of 2.3 nights per tourist.
The average stay for tourists arriving via King Fahad Causeway was 1.8 with a total of 2.8 million nights.
For tourists arriving via the airport, the average stay was 3.8 nights.
Shaikh Khalid added that the number of one-day visits via the causeway constituted 68 per cent of the total number of land visits while airport visits for less than 24 hours were 21 per cent.
Fifty-seven per cent of visitors said the purpose of their visit was for entertainment during the holidays, 22 per cent came to shop, nine per cent came to visit family and friends, seven per cent came for business and two per cent came for medical purposes.
The BTEA Chief Executive said that 1.4 million of the visitors (72 per cent) stayed in hotels 295,053 (14 per cent) in furnished apartments, 224,805 (11 per cent) with family and friends, 30,964 (two per cent) in rented houses and 27,247 in their own apartments or homes.
Opened in November 1986, the 25-kilometre King Fahad Causeway has given a major boost to tourism in Bahrain and enhanced travel and trade between the kingdom and the other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
The GCC, established in 1981, comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.