Kuwait on course for 1m arrivals by 2015

Kuwait set to become a new tourism hub

IT has been a positive year for Kuwait, whose five-year tourism plan was buoyed by 19 per cent increase in hotel RevPar. According to the latest STR hospitality report, Kuwait outperformed the Middle East and Africa market average in terms of its hotel RevPar performance.  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.  The increases also supported a Euromonitor survey which recorded 554,000 arrivals in Kuwait in 2010 and forecast one million arrivals by 2015.

Kuwait Tourism Board is keen to develop the country as a commercial and financial centre alongside tourism. As part of its efforts, the country will showcase its destination next month at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) that has already seen an increase of 118 per cent in pre-registered visitor numbers.

“One area that Kuwait could look to develop as part of this plan is the exhibitions and events sector, effectively bolting-on a programme of leisure activities either before or after business people conduct their meetings,” said Mark Walsh, portfolio director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.

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. Last year, the country launched a five-year plan for tourism last year which aims to attract more leisure tourists.

“Kuwait’s decision to increase the capacity of its airport by seven million to accommodate 14 million passengers highlights its ambition towards leisure tourism and its plans to become a travel hub for the northern Gulf,” adds Walsh.

In addition, the number of visitors from Kuwait that have already registered is up 118 per cent while the number of visitors who are interested in buying products and services from there has risen by 105 per cent. The Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Mashaer Haj & Umrah Services Consortium and Al-Marwa Haj & Umrah Services head-up an impressive list of exhibitors representing Kuwait this year.