MORE than 23,000 hotel rooms were booked during the Formula One weekend.
The Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) yesterday revealed that the overall occupancy rate of five-star hotels reached up to 90 per cent during the Bahrain Grand Prix, which endedapple-converted-space: aqj: on Sunday No character style: .
“Hotel revenues have increased during the 2018 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix with more than 23,000 hotel rooms booked,” said the BTEA in a statement.
“And the total occupancy rate of five-star hotels reached up to 90pc.”
Hotel revenues reached BD3.7 million during last year’s Grand Prix, when 12,000 hotel rooms were booked during the race weekend and total occupancy in five-star hotels reached 89pc.
“The Formula One season significantly contributes to the national economy and strengthens the kingdom’s position on the international tourism and sports map as it attracts thousands of visitors from around the world,” said BTEA chief executive Shaikh Khaled bin Humood Al Khalifa in a statement.
“We look forward to hosting the upcoming Grand Prix.”
Bahrain’s four star hotels also enjoyed a bumper F1 weekend, with many four- and five-star establishments registering 100 per cent room occupancy.
The influx of visitors at this year’s F1 also buoyed the food and beverage sector, with restaurants experiencing increased demand for tables.
Air Transport and Tourism Associates (ATTA) managing director Mohamed Buzizi described the figures as “exceptional”.
“From the hotels’ point of view, occupancy levels in four- and five-star hotels during the three days were between 90pc and 100pc,” he said.
“The food and beverage sector was also busy during the past few days because of the good turnout of visitors.”
He said it had been a good week for Bahrain’s hospitality industry, with last week’s announcement that new oil and gas reserves had been discovered also providing a source of optimism.
That is because of an anticipated increase in the number of gas and oilfield professionals visiting Bahrain.
“We suffered from bad publicity in the past, but this has changed because of growth in the tourism industry and especially the announcement of new oil and gas reserves,” said Mr Buzizi.
“This is a warming period as we expect more companies and their staff working on the new reserves to visit Bahrain in the next two to three years.”
Hospitality consultant Hameed Halwachi said the sector had posted stronger results during this year’s Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix than in 2017 and 2016.
“The response has been excellent with 100 per cent room occupancy during the weekend in most four- and five-star properties,” said the former head of the Bahrain Four Stars Hotels Committee.
“This is much better than last year, when average occupancy was 80pc.”
He said most visitors travelled to Bahrain from Saudi Arabia, across the King Fahad Causeway, and also reported strong demand for furnished apartments over the weekend.
Foreign visitors arriving for the Formula One race received a free 15-day visa, which enabled easy access to the country.
Elite Hospitality Group chief operating officer Sarosh Aibara said tourists benefited from increased competition from hotel operators, which resulted in lower room prices than last year.
“This is a good year for the hospitality sector because of the increase in F1 fans, media, crew and visitors who kept us all busy,” said Mr Albara.
“The room rates were much lower than last year because there is a lot of competition right now, which meant our overall revenues were not up – but the room occupancy levels have definitely increased.”
Meanwhile, Businessman Mohammed Almoayyed, who has invested in several restaurants in Adliya, also reported an “excellent” turnout from diners.
“The response in the past few days has been excellent with good reservations recorded at different outlets,” he said.
“Every time we host a big event like F1 there is a good influx of visitors, which overall helps the tourism sector.”
Formula One is the world’s most-watched sport and is credited with generating more than $1billion in direct revenues for Bahrain since the first race here in 2004.