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Monday, December 10, 2018 ARCHIVES  |  SEARCH  |  POST ADS  |  ADVERTISE  |  SUBSCRIBE   |  LOGIN   |  CONTACT US

Told you so

By Winfred Peppinck

Don’t you hate hearing someone saying, “told you so.” Well, it is worse when you are employed as an expat adviser, who while loving life in Bahrain, always intended leaving, after his “expertise” was passed on to a Bahraini colleague.

A seamless transition of knowledge and expertise.

As regular GDN letter writer Duri said earlier, the whole reason for the authorities inviting expats is they are generally on fixed contracts.

There is a “use by date,” a time to go.

I left behind files of ideas to improve administration, various management approaches, stock writing techniques.

Little interest.

Years ago, I wrote about Bahrain’s focus on five-star accommodation, neglecting a changed world, the backpacker traveller, who seldom enjoyed the luxury of five-star hotels.

Budget style accommodation, which was undone by the shutting down or curtailing many affordable, two/three star hotels, cheap, clean, dispensing some entertainment facilities.

Last week, senior executive Blauwens of the massive Wyndham chain of hotels made the same point.

The Wyndham chain is now establishing more budget style hotels in view of the growing market.

Again, is anyone listening?

Room occupancy in Bahrain in the first three-quarters of 2017 was between 50 per cent and 55pc, simply unsustainable.

There are now 80,000 empty apartment rooms, mostly catering to Saudi tourists, across the causeway.

This declined 18pc last year.

Blauwens said Bahrain was too reliant on the Saudi market, and with the continuing low oil prices, fewer people were coming.

Exacerbated now by the social and other “modernising”changes in Saudi Arabia itself including calls by the Saudi Crown Prince that Saudi’s should spend their money “at home.”

Obviously affecting accommodation and spending in Bahrain.

A new hotel usually takes between seven and eight years to complete: Construction, recruiting staff, making sure all the facilities meet the hotel standards, etc.

Most of the investment in Bahrain’s hotels dates from the period between 2008 and 2010, and many have therefore come on stream in the last few years.

The Wyndham hotel chain has indicated that it will build a mid-scale hotel in Bahrain to tap into a market which saw 8.7 million visitors entering Bahrain in the first nine months of 2017.

Up from 7.7m in 2016.

Spending BD9.1m and on average BD74 per day.

Wyndham will invest $32 billion in ongoing projects over the next four years.

Blauwens counsels that Bahrain doesn’t need to get into big meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions but focus on the mid-scale market.

He advocated more focus on budget airlines to tap into the growing traveller market, and greater airline connectivity, one of the great strengths of Dubai as a tourist centre, and throughport.

The new airport extensions will be a drawcard.

Dark Cloud however, the IMF chief just urged “Arab countries to slash public wages and salaries to achieve sustainable growth, to combat rising national debt, which on average is 55pc (more in Bahrain) of the GDP.

“King Canute’s” don’t get it; wanting subsidies restored!

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