Bahrain has emerged as the new attraction in the Gulf. Actively promoting the same, Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority (BTEA) held its first roadshow in Mumbai on recently, followed by the one in New Delhi.

Yousef Mohammed Alkhan, Director of Marketing and Tourism Promotion, Tourism and Exhibition Authority (BTEA) said: “We’re happy with the response we got from sellers back home. Many more wanted to come, but we had to put a limit. We see Indian market as very potential and very close historically, culturally, politically and also in distance, with just three hours flight time.”

Mr Alkhan led the 20 member team that included 18 delegates representing different Destination Management Companies (DMCs) and hotels. Currently Indian travellers to Bahrain are mostly business travellers and visiting families as there are 400,000 people of Indian origin in Bahrain.

Mr Sunil Mathapati, Country Manager, Bahrain Tourism said: “Bahrain, the smallest country of Arabia has 33 islands, buzzing entertainment and warmest people in GCC. Bahrain and Riffa Forts, ancient Houses of Muharraq that are UNESCO sites, Grand Mosque and pearl diving are traditional attractions.” Modern additions include National Museum and National Theatre with impressive modern buildings, Bahrain International Circuit with annual F1 race, Bahrain World Trade Centre with uniquely incorporated wind turbines, Oil museum signifying the first place in the Gulf where oil was discovered way back in 1932, malls and souks. Gravity sky dive, go karting, water sports on Jaradah Island are adventure options available to visitors to this peaceful country. Its liberal face is presented at Block 338, the entertainment district with variety dining options and at Riadot mall, dedicated for budding women fashion designers.

Mr Alkhan recommends a 3 to 4 nights stay in Bahrain to have a good impression of the country that is voted as the best place in the world for expats to live. He added that they have now eased visa regulations and are pushing to ease them further.

Bahrain’s flag carrier Gulf Air has joined hands with leading outsourcing and technology service provider VFS Global to launch a tourist visa service for its passengers flying across its world-wide network. Gulf Air travellers having return tickets can apply online for a Bahrain visa or through the airline’s local sales office 30 days prior to travel period. The visa service takes a minimum of four working days to process. 24×7 accessibility allows online tracking of visa. Bahraini visa costs 29 Dinar ($77), including processing fee.

Mir Jabir Ali, Country Manager India, Gulf Air, said: “Gulf Air was the first GCC carrier to connect to India and currently operates 61 flights out of India. We have a young fleet and will soon be adding new Boeing 787-9s into the fleet.” Gulf Air operates double dailies to Mumbai & New Delhi, 10 flights a week from Chennai, 9 out of Hyderabad and daily flights from Kochi Trivandrum. Air India and Jet Airways also connect India to Bahrain.

BTEA offices are present in UK, France, Germany, Russia, Saudi Arabia and China, besides India. Mr Alkhan said: “We would like to have roadshows in other markets where we have offices. Also would like to meet trade partners in other cities in India on our next sales mission.