A NEW plan to introduce sea tours between Bahrain Bay and Muharraq has been given the green signal.
A proposal by the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA), aimed at boosting tourism, was approved by the Muharraq Municipal Council at the final meeting of its four-year term yesterday.
BTEA officials, who were present at the meeting, revealed that five companies have been licensed to launch the tours, once the docking and ferrying areas are finalised.
Council chairman Mohammed Al Sinan suggested part of Al Ghous and Abu Maher corniches to launch the project.
However, 300 fishermen, threatened with eviction to pave the way for tourism investments such as for pearl diving, have currently sought refuge at Al Ghous corniche.
A deal was reached yesterday for the fishermen to continue sheltering at Al Ghous until they are given 15 days’ notice before the start of work to prepare the area for investment projects.
The council will now negotiate with Diyar Al Muharraq to accommodate some of the fishermen, dividing the rest of them at other locations temporarily until a new jetty is built in Muharraq.
The GDN reported last month that Bahrain was planning to launch amphibious tours on vehicles specially designed to run on the ground and in the water.
The Muharraq Bay witnessed Al Dana dhow tragedy on March 30, 2006 which claimed 58 lives.
About 130 workers from the construction firm Murray and Roberts and several other linked businesses had gathered to mark the end of phase one of the Bahrain World Trade Centre project on the pleasure boat, which capsized off the coast of Bahrain.
“We have moved on from the incident which happened more than 12 years ago,” said Mr Al Sinan.
“It is not the time to reflect on tragedy when we have the future ahead of us.
“Five companies will offer sea tours between the Bahrain Bay and Muharraq Bay with future expansions to include other locations in the sea in future; we are here to provide every support possible to succeed.
“The boats will not just offer taxi services, but will also have entertainment and cultural programmes, and could last on average for three hours.”
Mr Al Sinan criticised those who ridiculed the move by saying that all of Bahrain’s bays were swamps rather than actual bodies of water.
“Dubai has ferries for distances of two kilometres and they have programmes on board – do we call the water bodies they cover swamps or bays or ridicule the tourism services they are offering?
“We are not putting ourselves at the level of Istanbul, no one is saying this, we are working with what’s available and I see a bright future.
“It is just the beginning and more is to come.”
Mr Al Sinan said that the protesting fishermen at Al Ghous were already in violation, with the area being the prime location selected for the project.
“I am backing the fishermen to have easy access to the sea, but that location is prime and is earmarked for investments whether tours or pearl driving,” he said.
“They will continue using the place following our deal today until 15 days prior notice and then we are looking to move them to Diyar Al Muharraq, some not all, besides other empty locations following agreements with plot owners.
“We have selected the docking and operation points for the tour operators will be in Al Ghous and Abu Maher and that will be followed with other sites on a list that will be compiled before June 30.”
Sixty-two topics were listed for debate during the council’s final meeting, which ran for six hours.