Bahrain takes MICE approach in tourism ambitions

Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre

Bahrain has her eyes firmly set on key Asian markets as part of her tourism recovery plans – and with the Middle East’s largest conference centre slated to open there, the kingdom is hoping to take a huge chunk of the business tourism pie.

In December 2021, Bahrain Tourism launched the second pillar of its tourism strategy to capture 19 new key markets throughout 2022. Traditionally, the destination has focused on Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Russia and India. However, it is expanding its reach to across Asia, Europe and other Middle Eastern markets.

Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre

Maryam Toorani, marketing and promotions director at Bahrain Tourism, said: “These are ambitious goals but we feel Bahrain has the tourism potential to reach them. We selected the markets in terms of tourism traffic and existing direct flights with our national carrier.”

Across Asia, Bahrain Tourism is targeting China, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia. Within 1Q2022, it signed agreements with 75 tour operators across the 19 markets and has already started awareness campaigns in each.

At this year’s Arabian Travel Market, Toorani told TTGmice: “We want to create a buzz in terms of awareness. It’s been a crazy time for tourism but we’re already seeing uplift in traffic compared to the two Covid years.”

This year will be spent working on digital campaigns and recruiting social media influencers and celebrities from each of the markets. The tourism board will also carry out marketing campaigns directly through travel companies in the key markets.

Meanwhile, the 4Q2022 opening of Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre will form part of the kingdom’s push to become a leading global destination for large-scale conferences, exhibitions and events. The venue, said to be the Middle East’s largest conference centre, boasts 95,000m2 of exhibition space spread across 10 halls. There are also a 4,000-seat tiered auditorium, 95 meeting rooms, and a 250-seat restaurant.

Toorani said: “This is a really exciting product. We want to cement ourselves as a quality MICE destination, and key markets in Asia will play a major role in this.”

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