|By Arthur Macdonald, Gulf Daily News,
Manama, BahrainMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
March 15, 2012--MANAMA -- Things are looking very positive for the Bahrain hotel industry in general and Gulf Hotels Group in particular.
That was the message from Gulf Hotels Group chief executive Aqeel Raees on the sidelines of the company's annual meeting yesterday.
"In the past few days we have been experiencing 100 per cent occupancy rates and that compares with around 20pc at this time last year during unrest," he said.
"The start of the year has been very encouraging and the return of Formula One to Bahrain will be an important boost for ourselves and the industry," Mr Raees added.
"I am very positive for the year ahead for the hotel and the conference business as business confidence appears to be improving across the country."
In his annual review, group chairman Farouk Almoayyed said 2011 had been a tumultuous year for Bahrain with the political crisis triggered in February having a major impact on the hospitality industry.
"Despite some improvements in the second half of the year, the business climate remains extremely challenging," he said.
"The cancellation of the 2011 Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix, along with most of the major conferences and events, had a significant effect on hotel occupancy levels across the five-star market, which shrank by almost 30pc compared to 2010.
"However, the Gulf Hotel performed better than most with occupancies falling by 18pc compared to the previous year despite the addition of more than 1,000 five-star hotel rooms through the opening of the Sofitel and Kempinski hotels and the reopening of the Inter-Continental Regency Bahrain.
"The Gulf Hotel improved its fair market share, which was 20pc in 2010, by achieving a 24.5pc fair share in 2011," he added.
"The hotel continued to lead the five-star hotel market by selling 61,565 rooms in 2011, which is 21,000 more room nights than its nearest competitor."
The annual meeting approved the proposed agenda, including the distribution of a cash dividend of 30pc from the paid-up capital at 30 fils per share.
(c)2012 the Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
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