The tourism board's spirit is in the right place, but the key to experiential travel is giving the traveler the tools to discovery these things on his or her own.
Unique experiences that make a trip both enjoyable and memorable must be at the heart of what Bahrain can offer its tourists.
This is one of the main messages of the Culture Ministry’s Bahrain Tourism Strategy 2015-2018, which calls for an “experience-led” approach to the sector that aims to steer visitors towards pre-packaged tours featuring the country’s best attractions and cultural heritage.
The ministry envisages a raft of different options for tourists to take advantage of, its tourism affairs adviser and strategy project leader Dr Heba Abdulaziz told the GDN.
“We have identified seven unique experiences which will be developed using the tourism value chain approach,” she said.
“We have to make sure that tourism communicates and celebrates the intrinsic cultural values and heritage assets of Bahrain.
“We must also encourage tourism businesses to embrace environmental measures and create a general understanding of tourism sustainability principles, as well as the principles of community-based tourism.”
The list of experiences includes:
In the Footsteps of Jacques Cartier — an exploration of pearling in Bahrain. Named after a founding member of the famous French jewellery company Cartier, who came to Bahrain in 1921 in search of the perfect pearl. This experience will include pearl diving at Al Dar Island, visiting pearl traders whose families have worked in the industry for decades and walking the Pearl Route in Muharraq — a Unesco World Heritage Site. Projects to be completed include a pearl museum, a boutique hotel on the pearling route, a brochure and an app.
Arabia Nature Experience — island, palms, desert, springs and oil. This experience will include a stay at a planned eco-lodge on Hawar Islands to see the dugongs and migratory birds, a visit to the Tree of Life and Dar An Naft (Bapco’s Oil Museum) as well as an overnight stay at planned open-air palm tree exhibition.
The Culture Trail — an insight into Bahrain’s diverse cultural heritage, including visits to the country’s world heritage sites and Bahrain National Museum. Other ports of call include the National Theatre, the planned ‘Little India District’, the restored old houses of Muharraq and a visit to the country’s suqs.
Family Fun Experience — includes shopping, sports and fun on the water, as well as visits to the theatre and cinema, children’s activity camps and a stay at a beach resort.
The Winning Formula Experience — a vehicle lover’s dream, including a drive in a Ferrari at Bahrain International Circuit, a tour of the country by motorbike, a sea trip in a traditional dhow and a one-day open bus tour.
The Festive Spirit Experience — a visit to Bahrain during festival time, such as the Bahrain Summer Festival, the Spring of Culture, the Giffoni Film Festival for children and the planned Festival of the Sea, Kite Festival and Palm Festival.
Gourmet Bahrain Experience — an exploration of all the culinary delights that Bahrain has to offer, including visits to the eateries of Block 338 and an opportunity for tourists to taste and take home a package of traditional spices and sweets.
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Photo credit: Umbrellas on the beach at Al Dar island. Allan Donque / Flickr