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Bahrain records 'world’s fastest recovery in tourism'

June 15, 2022

Bahrain has recorded the world’s fastest tourism recovery rate of 95% since the pandemic, with its 2021 tourist numbers reaching 3.8 million, a new research report said.

However, its 2021 tourism revenue of $1.8 billion is only 49% of what the island country accumulated in 2019 ($3.7 billion), meaning travellers are spending less when they visit, according to analysis from money.co.uk, a UK-based price comparison website.

In second place, Albania welcomed over 5.3 million tourists in 2021, just short (89.8%) of its 2019 total. With a varied blend of mountainous and coastal regions, this south-eastern European country will hope to return to its pre-lockdown visitor peak soon, the report noted.

The Caribbean nation Dominican Republic, the third in the top three countries posting highest recoveries, which saw 5 million visitors in 2021, which was around 78% of its total for 2019 (6.4 million). According to the country’s Ministry of Tourism, the country attracted more tourists (700,000) in December 2021, than it had in any other month on record.

Placing tenth in the rankings is Montenegro. While the small Balkan country's 2021 tourist total of 1.6 million is only 64% of its 2019 numbers (2.5 million), its recovery from the 2020 slump of 400,000 is impressive, said the report.

James Andrews, personal finance expert at money.co.uk, commented on the research: “After around two years of lockdowns people are again looking abroad for their next holiday. While some consumer trends have changed forever, a lot of the usual things people look for in a potential destination remain the same. At the top of this list is affordability, no matter what the location and type of holiday. There are a number of ways to keep costs down when taking a vacation, while still getting the break you need:”

Cutting costs
• Shop around - Compare packages from various travel agents to just booking every step of the trip yourself, as sometimes that extra effort can equal more spending money in your pocket.
• Analyse traveller reviews - Advice from your fellow tourists who have done it before is invaluable. Most accommodation and major attractions are rated on affordability as well as giving information on what you will experience, which should advise you if it will be worth it.
• Be wary of tourist traps - While some are inevitable when exploring a location's major landmarks and attractions, don't be afraid to venture outside of the hustle and bustle. Finding some local gems will usually result in better prices and a more authentic experience.
• Set yourself a daily budget - This can be difficult but planning and tracking your spending when on holiday allows you to stay in financial control. Give yourself a realistic daily allowance that will still leave you with money for emergencies, or even that new piece of clothing that caught your eye.

Countries where tourism is struggling to recover post-pandemic
Hong Kong’s tourism industry is struggling to recover the most, according to the research. Twenty-four million tourists in 2019 dropped to approximately 100,000 in 2021, 0.4% of its pre-Covid popularity.

The second slowest return to normality is Japan. Its 2021 tourist volume of around 200,000 is only 0.6% of its 2019 total (31.9 million). Taiwan completes the top three with roughly 100,000 visitors in 2021, which is a large drop from its 2019 total of 11.9 million (0.8%).