Published 30 Jun,2020 via Asharq Alawsat (English Edition) - Bahrain’s tourism and entertainment sector is preparing for the return of visitors, especially Saudi tourists, as Gulf Cooperation Council member states move towards easing COVID-19 preventative restrictions.
Tourists are patiently awaiting the reopening of the King Fahd Causeway which links Saudi Arabia to Bahrain. The bridge was closed on March 7 as part of the precautionary measures taken by Saudi Arabia to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
According to information received by Asharq Al-Awsat, the regular meeting of the Bahrain Coordination Committee pointed to the possibility of the reopening of the bridge on July 27, with the setting of strict protocols to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Concerned authorities took the interruption of the movement between the two countries as an opportunity to complete development projects, the King Fahad Causeway Authority announced the continuation of the implementation of a comprehensive development and improvement plan for both the Saudi and Bahraini sides.
In a tweet, the Authority said that work is ongoing to launch the first phase of an e-payment system for the King Fahd Causeway gates on both sides.
The daily average number of travelers across the King Fahd Causeway is 75,000 passengers, while the Economic Development Council in the Kingdom of Bahrain - a government agency - is working to attract investments and diversify the Bahraini economy.
In 2019, Bahrain welcomed 11 million visitors, the vast majority of them were from Saudi Arabia. Around nine million Saudi tourists made up 88% of the total visitors to Bahrain.
The tourism sector, according to the Economic Development Board, contributes 6.3% of Bahraini GDP, with annual revenues of about $ 13 billion.
"The precautionary closure of the bridge to private vehicles has acted as a catalyst for long-planned upgrade work, while commercial drivers are still able to pass through each day enabling critical continuity for the logistics sector," Abdul Hakim Al Shammari, Chairman of Commercial Market Committee and Board Member of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), said.
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