Sat. Mar 25th, 2023

The Royal decree was issued by His Majesty King Hamad during the National Assembly’s recess last year
Legislators have called for a new tourism strategy that harnesses Bahrainis’ potential and positions the country as an attractive destination for families. It follows MP Mohammed Olaiwi’s claim that several expatriates on tourist visas were ‘begging on streets’ across the country.He alleged, during the weekly session yesterday, that the kingdom was ‘opening its arms to the wrong people.
’“We want tourists who can spend and not beggars on tourist visas who can be spotted on every street,” said Mr Olaiwi.“A proper system should be introduced for tourism so that visitors really keen on exploring the country arrive here to see we have on offer. We need to crack down on those taking tourism as an excuse for dubious causes.
“This country has an appealing landscape, but not enough attractions or proper promotions to lure visitors and the evidence is Al Dar Island, which has only seven chalets and nothing more.”Parliament services committee chairman Mamdooh Al Saleh claimed that tourists arriving at Bahrain International Airport were being welcomed by expatriate tour guides or hotel employees, rather than Bahrainis.“The issue is not just about facilities or highlighting our tourist hotspots, it’s more about having Bahrainis at the forefront of the sector,” he said.“We need to start from the airport and have Bahrainis welcoming and guiding visitors, and not people from Southeast Asia. That’s how we can win over tourists.”MP Abdulla Al Dhaen backed Mr Al Saleh and said Bahraini citizens should be at the forefront of all tourism strategies.
“The sector will benefit only if more and more people stay on and take rooms in hotels,” he said, claiming that Bahrain was an archipelago of islands with not many restaurants or coffee shops on the seafront.He was, however, cut short by Parliament Speaker Ahmed Al Musallam, who highlighted restaurants and outlets in The Avenues, a popular sea-front development.Mr Al Musallam said Tourism Minister Fatima Al Sairafi – who was present – was young and new in the job and MPs should give her time.Parliament first deputy Speaker Abdulnabi Salman claimed that tourism sector was hit by high taxes and fees imposed on facilities.“We hear about tourism, but we don’t see traces of it,” he said.Ms Al Sairafi responded by highlighting that the 2022-2026 national tourism plan had exceeded targets in its first year.
“We have a direction, goals and plans and are working to achieve them, while taking all MPs’ recommendations into account,” she told MPs.Legislators voted unanimously on a range of amendments to tourism laws that could give officials more decision-making powers and authority, now that the sector has its own ministry.In previous years, tourism was linked to the Industry and Commerce Ministry and all laws relating to it referred to the combined institution.
The Royal decree was issued by His Majesty King Hamad during the National Assembly’s recess last year.Amendments to the 1986 Tourism Law and the 2006 Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority Establishment and Organisation Law have now been referred to the Shura Council for review.Other decrees approved unanimously yesterday are: Amendments to the 1991 Military and Public Security Pension Fund Law and the 2010 Military and Public Security Pension Management Law and amendments to building, urban planning and land classification laws.
Housing and Urban Planning Minister Amna Al Romaihi was also present.Parliament and Shura Council Affairs Minister Ghanim Al Buainain yesterday refuted claims by MPs that VIPs and ‘wastas’ were hindering the construction and zoning process in the country.“The National Higher Committee for Urban Planning is chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, with decisions being taken after careful technical, financial and impact reviews,” the minister said.All decrees have been referred to the Shura Council.
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