Investment in technology will support the growth of Bahrain’s travel industry and contribute more to gross domestic product (GDP). This was a key topic of discussion at a media event jointly hosted by Gulf Air, the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain and travel technology leader, Sabre Travel Network Middle East (STNME), a longstanding joint venture partnership between Sabre Corporation (NASDAQ: SABR) a leading global technology provider to the travel and tourism industry and Gulf Air. Titled 'Bahrain Travel Industry: Partnership in Synergy,' the event was held under the patronage of Sheikh Khaled Bin Humood Al Khalifa, Acting CEO of Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority (BTEA), and was attended by government officials and industry leaders from Bahrain, the Middle East and Europe, to discuss economic opportunities and challenges, trends shaping the future of travel and the contribution of the sector to Bahrain’s economy. Sheikh Khaled Bin Humood opened the event, sharing BTEA’s strategy and vision for travel and tourism in Bahrain and highlighting Brand Bahrain, an international campaign launched last month to promote the Kingdom as a top tourist destination. Harald Eisenächer, senior vice president, Sabre Travel Network, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), said Bahrain’s travel industry is growing and is expected to increase its GDP contribution to five percent this year. “Travel companies need to understand changing consumer habits and the impact mobile and online technologies are having on travel. Make sure you know what’s coming and invest in technology that will provide travelers a more personalized experience that will drive loyalty, while generating new revenue streams for your business,” said Eisenächer. He also said that while internet penetration in Bahrain is almost 100 percent, e-commerce and m-commerce were still relatively low. “There’s still a lot of concern about shopping online and sharing credit card details, which is why Sabre developed a virtual payments solution to address payment security concerns. We spend a lot of time understanding future traveler needs and helping our customers develop the right mobile and online strategy to cater to what their customers want today and in the future. Travel is continually transforming – it never stands still,” he said. Another topic of discussion was the future of travel particularly the rise of the millennial travel. Director of Information Technology, Gulf Air Dr Jassim Haji, said, “Technology is a great enabler, and it has been widely adopted with growing numbers of travelers embracing the mobile revolution as they become increasingly tech-savvy.” He also reflected on the evolving travel experience and how various stakeholders within the industry need to step up and change their offering, “Travelers today have stronger voices that carry further thanks to the prominence of social media and its ease of use. That’s not all, coupled with travelers’ greater strength of voice is an evolved expectation. We now, more than ever, need to deliver a seamless travel experience that is convenient, flexible, friendly and – at all times – responsive to individual needs. At Gulf Air we are committed to driving the travel technology movement and supporting greater uptake of the latest travel solutions on offer.” The Bahrain Travel Industry: Partnership in Synergy panel had speakers from STNME, Gulf Air, Sabre, key travel agencies in Bahrain, Bahrain Economic Development Board and Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority.