Spotlight on leisure

Kuwait aims to attract more leisure tourists.

Kuwait outperformed the Middle East and Africa market average in terms of its hotel RevPar performance, according to the latest STR hospitality report. Kuwait’s occupancy levels grew by 5.3 per cent to 55.1 per cent, average room rate improved from $221 to $227 and RevPar increased to $120, an extremely healthy 19.2 per cent increase year-on-year. Kuwait with limited new supply of hotel rooms saw a strong occupancy growth (+10.7 per cent) in 2011.

The increases also supported a Euromonitor survey which recorded 554,000 arrivals in Kuwait in 2010 and forecast one million arrivals by 2015. As part of the government’s plan to develop the country as a commercial and financial centre alongside tourism, the country launched a five-year plan for tourism last year, which aims to attract more leisure tourists. In 2008, five-star hotels operated by international hotel chains dominated Kuwait’s hotel landscape but since then investors have been opening up lower- priced hotels and extended-stay properties.

Although Kuwait remains a predominantly business destination the Kuwaiti government is aiming to double its international airport capacity to 14 million passengers a year as it seeks to improve the country’s tourism infrastructure, to attract more leisure travellers.

The country also has plans to increase the capacity of its airport by seven million to accommodate 14 million passengers, thereby highlighting its ambition towards leisure tourism and plans to become a travel hub for the northern Gulf.

Minister of Commerce and Industry and Minister of State for Planning and Development Dr Amani Bouresli said that the Kuwait hotel sector has great potential to make it a key partner in economic development.

Bouresli told Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) that the State of Kuwait, represented by the Federation of Kuwait Hotels, is the only Arab member of the board of the World Federation of Hotels and Restaurants, expressing pride in this matter, which reflects the progress reached by the Kuwaiti hotels sector.

She said the Ministry of Commerce attaches particular attention to the hotels sector as being among the services sectors that are highly linked to the tourism sector, noting that boosting the hotels sector is considered support of the Kuwaiti tourism, thus, having a significant positive impact on the national economy in general.

She said that she has formed a specialised team from within and outside the ministry and issued several decisions concerning the development of the hotel industry, indicating that there are decisions and other measures on their way to approval.