With ambitions to welcome 440,000 visitors a year by 2024, the government of Kuwait is pressing ahead with multiple plans that will see billions of dollars invested in projects and a further $1 billion budget earmarked to promote the Gulf state over the same period.
Plans are in place to establish a Supreme Commission for Tourism to initiate its tourism strategy as the country prepares to showcase at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2017, which takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre 24-27 April.
A number of mega-projects will share the multi-billion dollar development budget, including: Madinat Al Hareer and Silk City, a proposed mega-development in the country’s north; the expansion of Kuwait International Airport, reaching 25 million passenger per year capacity by 2025; and cultural attractions such as Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah Islamic Centre.
Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, ATM, said: “Kuwait is evolving into a multifaceted destination with many things to offer both corporate and leisure visitors. The government is making huge investments at a crucial time for the country’s development and, in channeling significant funds into tourism infrastructure, leisure developments and lifestyle destinations, in the long-term Kuwait is telling the world it’s very much open for business.”
According to figures from the World Travel and Tourism Council, travel and tourism investment in Kuwait is set to rise 1.5% per annum over the next ten years to KWD135.6 million in 2027.
The latest Colliers International Kuwait Hospitality Market Snapshot, reports 70% of visitors arrived in Kuwait as corporate travelers in 2016, with the country’s leisure industry comprising only 6% of total arrivals - hotel performance declined 6% overall for the year as a result. Business spending also suffered losses, falling 2.4% over the course of the year.
Key hotel performance indicators showed slight declines in 2016 with ADR down 2.3%, RevPAR down 4.8% and occupancy down 2.6%.
Performance is forecast for strong recovery in 2017 with continued growth to 2026, reaching values of KWD501.3 million. Leisure travel spending is expected rise by 4.5% per annum to KWD1,939.1 million in 2026, following an annual growth rate of 8.7% in 2016.
Press said: “Kuwait is actively working to diversify its guest segmentation and that will be important to securing the projected levels of growth over the coming years. We expect to see a corresponding diversification in hotel stock as more leisure, health and wellness tourists discover the country’s unique offerings.”
This year, ATM will host a number of exhibitors from Kuwait, including the Ministry of Information – Tourism Sector, Holidays Arabia, Kuwait Hotel Owners Association, Kuwait Tourism and Services.
ATM - considered by many industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector – witnessed a year-on-year visitor attendance increase of 9% to over 28,500 in 2016, with 2,785 exhibiting companies, signing business deals worth more than US$ 2.5 billion over four days.
ATM 2017 will build on its success with the announcement of an additional hall as Reed Travel Exhibitions looks to add to its record-breaking achievements of 2016.