Kuwait is pressing ahead to become a major tourist destination in the Gulf, and has recently invited 42 investors to bid for a multi-billion-dollar project that will transform one of its islands into a mega resort.
The $5 billion project to turn Failaka Island into a tourist attraction, is a major component of its 20-year Tourism Masterplan, launched last May.
The masterplan, which was drawn up in co-ordination with the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), outlines major developments in the country’s hotels and resorts, leisure and recreation and scientific, ecological and technological exhibits.
Kuwait’s assistant under-secretary for tourism Nabila Al Anjari, when announcing the plan, hailed it as groundbreaking and the dawn of ‘‘a new era of tourism and development’’.
The Failaka project, to be launched by Dizart, aims to transform the historic island located 20 km northeast of Kuwait City, into one of the country’s main tourist attraction.
To be developed on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis, the project calls for the construction of tourism infrastructure on the 43 sq km island. The construction and project manager is the US’ Hill International with the local SPDM.
The government-owned Touristic Enterprises Company (TEC), meanwhile, is spearheading development of a section of the Island. A BOT contract was signed last September between TEC and a consortium led by Al-Mal Real Estate Company for the development of a tourist resort on the southern portion of the island.
The resort will include a 100-room five-star hotel, 502 chalets, a sports and entertainment centre with a pier, a health spa, a water park and golf and mini-golf courses.
Project costs are estimated at KD40 million ($138 million) and the area to be developed covers about 1.7 million sq m. Detailed designs are due to take about a year, construction a further two years.
Meanwhile, plans for the development of Bubiyan Island are moving forward with the go-ahead given for the $1.2 billion Bubiyan port. Dizart – which is again the owner – intends to develop the island into a tourism resort, in five phases.
Hill International is the project manager on the scheme which will include the construction of hotels, chalets and recreational facilities on the island and a causeway to the main island.
Kuwait regards mega projects such as Failaka and Bubiyan vital to the success of its economic diversification strategy and the government sees in tourism a major money spinner that will help diversify the national income and create new jobs for Kuwaitis.
Kuwaiti tourists currently spend an estimated $3 billion outside of the country and the government is keen cash in on these tourist dollars. ‘‘The number one priority is to develop and improve domestic tourism,’’ Al Anjari says.
Nearly 80 per cent of Kuwaiti tourists travel abroad and a majority of them would easily spend prime vacation within the country if quality facilities were available, she points out.
Also, the government expects a five per cent growth in jobs within the hotel, travel and tourism market, she says, with opportunities for Kuwaitis in these sectors expected to increase twelvefold by 2020, compared to 2001.
As a second priority, Kuwait is also positioning itself as an inbound GCC destination with a strong emphasis on business traveller meetings and exhibits, and as an excellent family holiday destination for GCC residents.
Kuwait has taken ground-breaking steps to promote visitor travel and business investment in the country. Visa rules have been relaxed and visitors from North America, most of Western Europe, South-East Asia, Australia and New Zealand are now allowed to obtain entry visas upon arrival to Kuwait.
Salem Al Marzouk & Sabah Abi-Hanna (SSH) with Germany’s Dorsch Consult is working on contract to update a masterplan for the expansion of the Kuwait International Airport. The plan includes the construction of a second terminal on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis. The size of the second terminal has still to be determined: the existing runway’s capacity allows for a new terminal of up to 15 million passengers a year.
KIA has the capacity to handle up to 5 million passengers a year.
NACO drew up the original masterplan.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.