Manama, Jun 10: Beirut-based Arab Tourism Channel (ATC) will move its headquarters to Bahrain in August, it has been revealed.The move is aimed at supporting the Bahrain government's drive to increase the share of tourism in the country's GDP, said Jamil Wafa, chairman of Magnum Holdings, the parent company of Magnum Exhibitions and Events Management (MEEM), which has bought 80 per cent shares of the channel.
The Information Ministry has granted permission for the channel to start telecasting from Bahrain, he revealed.
Wafa was speaking to a group of journalists, whom he honoured for contributing to the success of last month's Bahrain International Travel Expo, BITE 2006.
He presented special plaques to six journalists, including GDN editor-in-chief George Williams, for supporting BITE through extensive media coverage.
Information Ministry public relations director Ebrahim Noor was also honoured.
The ceremony was held at the Unitag headquarters in Manama.
BITE was covered by ATC, which has its headquarters in Beirut and offices in Dubai and London.
Wafa said the channel would be relocated to Bahrain by August.
"We are in the process of acquiring an office and warehouse for the organisation," he noted.
"We shall re-brand the channel to give it an international flavour. The idea is to telecast tourism related activities both in Arabic and English.
"A chief executive officer who has considerable years of experience in visual media will be appointed soon."
Mr Wafa said he was extremely grateful to all the media and the government organisations as well as the exhibitors from around the world for making BITE a successful and memorable event.
"We are specially thankful to Crown Prince and Economic Development Board (EDB) chairman Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa who patronised the event for the second consecutive year," he noted.
"BITE 2006 has registered impressive results, doing the travel industry proud."
Preliminary preparations have already started for the third expo, BITE 2007, which is scheduled for May 8 to 10.
"Seventy per cent of the exhibitors who took part in BITE 2006 have pledged to come back next year in a bigger scale. Most of them have already booked a bigger exhibition space."
BITE 2006 recorded approximately 16,800 visitors, who were serious, educated holiday seekers with a cosmopolitan background, Wafa revealed.
There were 79 exhibitors who participated from 27 countries from all over the world.
"BITE has become an important event in international tourism events and coincided at a time when our government is in pursuit to promote investments in tourism," said Wafa.
"The success of BITE 2006 would not have been possible without the support of so many organizations and people involved. And we acknowledge their efforts and dedication."