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Bahrain’s tourism ‘at stake over terrorism’

Manama, August 6, 2013

Bahrain’s tourism industry was slowly recovering from the effects of the political unrest that kicked off in 2011, but a dangerous escalation in violence over the last few weeks could permanently damage the sector, said industry experts.

It comes less than 24 hours after two Bahrainis, including a teenager, were injured during an attack by a group of thugs firing pellets from shotguns, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

Police said the attackers used homemade weapons against policemen and two people were injured in the crossfire in Budaiya yesterday morning.

It happened near a park, where a bomb was detonated a day earlier, but no injuries were reported.

Travellers from neighbouring Gulf countries have already started changing their Eid plans away from Bahrain, said Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) travel and tourism committee head Nabeel Kanoo.

"Security and stability is the key for the tourism sector to grow," he told the GDN. "But here we have these terrorists committing violent acts, planting bombs near parks, mosques and shopping complexes."

Kanoo said the "disease" has started to spread across the country and it was imperative to implement the law.

"These terrorists should be stopped immediately and the government is not willing to deal with them," he said. "We, as members of the business community, demand the government deal with this disease that is spreading all over by implementing the law of the land."

Kanoo, who is also director at Yusuf bin Ahmed Kanoo, said it was important for Bahrain to reassure visitors from GCC states that it is business as usual here.

"We bank on tourists from GCC countries who are now increasingly travelling to Jordan, Qatar, UAE or even Thailand," he said. "Unfortunately, we in Bahrain are not well prepared for such holidays in terms of attraction and markets offered by our neighbours."

Bahrain has attempted to overcome the loss of millions of dinars of investment since the outbreak of violence in 2011, but Kanoo said the ongoing violence continues to affect small and medium industries.

"The economy continues to suffer and the worst affected are the small and medium-scale industries," he said. "Companies are going through restructuring processes and not many new projects are coming up. We also do not expect great growth in the tourism and hospitality sector because of the present situation."

Last month, a remote-controlled bomb, a combination of gas cylinders and homemade explosives, was placed inside a car that exploded in the parking space of Shaikh Isa bin Salman mosque.

It happened when worshippers were performing special prayers, but no injuries were reported.

Violence continued during Ramadan with a booby-trapped car that exploded near Bahrain City Centre on July 29.

Businesses located in a building in Sehla were also damaged during a fire that broke out after thugs hurled Molotov Cocktails at it on July 26.

However, Dadabhai Group chairman Mohammed Dadabhai said the "terror tactics" used against people will not succeed.

"These terror tactics to keep people away from Bahrain will not work and this will not continue," he said.

"There is no doubt the industry has suffered because of the violence. But it is important to highlight that a majority of the people reject this tactic. We, as members of the business community, back government efforts in taking control of the situation,” he added. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | tourism | BCCI | violence | Bomb explosion |

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