Staycations provide lifeline to struggling Bahraini hotel sector

Published: 27 July 2020 - 7:15 a.m.

Like other countries in the region, Bahrain’s hospitality industry had the odds stacked against it amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Bahrain International Airport, King Fahad Causeway and the kingdom’s port all closed in early March in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19. Subsequently, hotels found themselves without guests to fill rooms, leading to the rise of the staycation.

In the UAE, Hotelier Middle East has heard from countless professionals how crucial domestic guests have been to spur business and keep hotels afloat. According to local newspaper Gulf Daily News, Bahrain is no different.

With international business off limits, hoteliers initially struggled to adapt so quickly to the pandemic.

“Hotels had no other option but to co-operate with all the procedures to limit the pandemic in a short period of time, making it one of the most difficult situations for the hospitality industry in the last 30 years,” said H&J The Experts In Hospitality and Spa chief executive Hameed Al Halwachi.

“Most of the hotels at this stage are trying to concentrate on domestic visitors who want to get away from home and stay at a hotel, maybe for a weekend or more.

“The current occupancy is between five and eight percent and only some of the hotels possibly reach 15 percent over the weekends.”

Without international guests, hoteliers have had to set their sights on domestic guests. Gulf Hotel Bahrain area GM Fares Yactine explained: “This year will, of course, generate greater interest as many families who typically leave the island during the summer will be staying and looking for fun activities or exciting staycation ideas.”

A Four Seasons spokeswoman added that its properties have seen an increase in staycation bookings, with a “strong and healthy demand” on the weekends.

“Historically we have always seen a demand for staycation visits from residents looking to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or simply to enjoy our private beach and kid’s facilities,” she said.

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