(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudis accounted for 52 percent of Bahrain's eight million tourists during 2012, said a recent statement from the tourism department in Bahrain.
"Around 73 percent of Saudi tourists entered the country across the King Fahd Causeway and 22 percent arrived by air," said Sheikh Khalid bin Hamoud Al-Khalifa, tourism undersecretary at the Bahrain Ministry of Culture.
Hotels and restaurants had a turnover of SR2 million last year, he said. The sheikh hinted at the possibility of extending the closing time of hotels and coffee houses to 2 a.m.
Al-Khalifa said that his ministry aimed to attract Gulf family tourists to the country during a talk with the Saudi Tourist Media Center. He said efforts are being made to attract one-day visitors from Saudi Arabia who have crossed the causeway to spend the night in Bahrain.
He added that the studies conducted by his office revealed that cinema houses, shopping centers and beaches were among the most popular tourist venues for Saudis.He said the tourism department had plans to increase the number of hotel rooms from 10,000 to 12,000 by 2014. Investment in the five-star hotel industry has exceeded SR2.5 billion over the past two years and 13 new hotels have been opened in the current year.
He said the country offered a favorable investment climate to Gulf investors in the tourism sector.
"The Tourism Department guarantees completing formalities in a single day, since investment in this industry is largely welcomed," he said.
The government also will ensure the availability of land for this project. The two new projects currently underway are the Arab Anchorage Development project and the Lulu Road project, which seeks to highlight the historical and economic value of the region.
Gulf Air has established a strong presence in its Saudi Arabia-Bahrain sector, with 70 weekly flights, including 14 flights from Riyadh, 21 from Jeddah, 30 from Dammam and five from Madinah.
The executive director of Public Relations at Gulf Air said that his company planned to increase performance levels during a meeting with the Saudi Tourist Media Center, with new focus on short flights in the Gulf sector.
The company, he said, had scaled down its loss by 54 percent by the end of October. The company is also negotiating with leading aircraft manufacturers to replace their large planes with smaller models, he added.