With its tourism industry steadily moving forward in the development and refinement of its product, Kuwait is anticipating great success with various strategies and initiatives in place for the new year to lure all types of travellers. Tatiana Tsierkezou investigates.
World-renowned for being a hub for business, with oil, gas, construction and investment representing the main pillars of this destination’s strong and fruitful economy, Kuwait is slowly but surely working on its tourism industry, sculpting and moulding it to better cater to the needs of its visitors, whether they be regional or international.
“Kuwait has a lot to offer travellers and GCC residents: its lifestyle, shopping facilities, sports events, culture, tradition and heritage are truly different. This is what makes Kuwait so unique and attractive,” enthused general manager, Ibis Salmiya Kuwait, Bruno Debray to TTG.
Predominantly embracing high frequencies of business travellers, the country’s tourism industry is more than equipped to cater to the needs of those visiting for both corporate and leisure purposes; so with the arrival of a new year, various business strategies have been adopted in order to transform this industry into one that will hugely and positively impact its economy.
Speaking exclusively to TTG about its business approach for the new year was revenue manager, Al Manshar Rotana, Mariana Zaidan: “I think that it is more important than ever that hoteliers arm themselves with partners and tools that will position them to increase bookings and enhance occupancy.
“For us, we will keep working on e-commerce, while social media plays the biggest role when it comes to promoting our hotel facilities and promotions for all guests in order to encourage them to visit Al Manshar Rotana.”
Zaidan further explained that Al Manshar Rotana will continue to forge new partnerships and build relationships with important online booking engines including booking.com and expedia.com so as to broaden its reach and exposure.
With its eye keenly on the tourism game, throughout 2016 Ibis Salmiya Kuwait will be focusing its energy on further enhancing the customer experience with various projects and initiatives.
“Ibis as a brand is very much focusing on digital in order to improve the check-in and check-out procedure,” Debray commented to TTG.
“More emphasis will be put on providing mobile apps and digital tools that will help and assist the guest to book a hotel room, a restaurant or a service online, or to formulate any special request.”
Adding to this, Debray exclusively explained to TTG that the hotel will be concentrating on enhancing its web content with more photos and videos to further entice guests, while also working to improve its social media and web presence in order to gain heightened levels of visibility.
Moreover, Ibis Salmiya Kuwait’s general manager told TTG that the property will be capitalising on its loyalty programme, Le Club.
“[This is] a very rewarding programme, extremely generous and packed with soft benefits,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mövenpick Hotel Kuwait has its heart set on short and medium term intraregional travel.
“[We will be particularly honing in on] GCC families on short breaks or visiting relatives on a long term basis, who create a definite potential for Kuwait to position itself as one of the leading leisure destinations in the GCC,” said general manager, Mövenpick Hotel Kuwait, Hassan Hassanein.
“Our main leisure market is Kuwaiti guests as the hotel makes them feel as if they have already travelled to several destinations, as well as guests from Saudi Arabia. We have noticed an increase of leisure guests from other GCC countries such as Qatar and Bahrain,” he told TTG.
Finally, the last to speak of a 2016 game plan was marketing and communications manager, The Regency Hotel, Kuwait, Ahmed Mourad.
“Facing the reality, Kuwait is not yet a tourism country, so we are targeting first the business travellers and then the leisure travellers from the GCC. The main focus is on European business travellers, mainly Italians, and we have made a big change to our guests’ nationalities analysis list by adding a big ratio of Italian guests to it. We are also focusing on other European countries such as England and France as well as the East Asia region which is interested in conducting business with our region.”
He continued: “Our strategy for 2016 is to enhance our approach to the different kinds of targets and work more with private and corporate sectors to host their conferences, meetings and their guests, allowing them to experience the meaning of ‘luxury’ in every detail.”
With exciting developments in the pipeline for the high-end hotel, Mourad exclusively shared with TTG that throughout 2016 the property will be constructing Kuwait’s biggest pillarless exhibition hall, boasting all of the required facilities for events and exhibitions.
“Adding to this, the year 2016 will be an exciting and important one for The Regency as we embark on another significant development; the creation of a shopping district and food court concept in our biggest car park area which will connect to our convention centre,” he said.
This brand new facility, expected to reach completion in mid-2017, will be home to a variety of shopping and restaurant outlets as well ‘his and her’ spa facilities and an additional car parking area for an extra 600 cars.
PEERING INTO THE FUTURE
And as tourism stakeholders work to boost their reach across the region by means of enhancing facilities, strategies and initiatives, TTG sought to uncover the forecast for Kuwait’s travel and tourism industry over the coming five years.
Expressing great optimism, Zaidan of Al Manshar Rotana noted that shopping tourism is expected to flourish in the coming years, based on the world-class shopping and entertainment which is already available, while extensions and enhancements on shopping centres, including The Avenues and 360 Mall, are also in the pipeline as well as several new projects in the coming years.
“The country is turning out to be a main shopping destination in the region,” she explained. “With the governmental five-year development plan, which includes tourism support, we expect to see an increase in the leisure segment in Kuwait. Our main feeder markets will continue to be the GCC countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”
Zaidan also predicted that Kuwait will remain a big business-targeted area with various new projects related to oil and gas, such as the Clean Fuel Project and the New Refinery Project, in the pipeline.
Also anticipating great tourism industry success was Mourad of The Regency Hotel, Kuwait who commented to TTG: “Kuwait’s tourism is expected to expand throughout the coming five years if it extends its local festivals, works more with the international media and develops new concepts of entertainment for international travellers, not only for the GCC’s needs. I believe the government is considering these points and is working on making this happen by embarking on international road shows and building a new and spacious airport to host more travellers with the very latest technologies.”
The country’s tourism players have expressed optimism and great potential for the destination. Kuwait’s ever-growing tourism industry is on its way to greater heights, with plans set to benefit both the country, and business and leisure travellers paying a visit