Kuwait is eagerly working to enrich its touristic offering, complimenting the country’s Vision 2035. Tatiana Tsierkezou catches up with hospitality stakeholders to uncover what makes Kuwait so appealing and what developments are changing the face of its tourism industry.
Kuwait is one of the GCC region’s most unique and socially progressive destinations. The country itself, which is home to a population of just over four million, is renowned for its warm, and welcoming people, as well as its incomparable cuisine.
The State is often a very popular choice among GCC travellers yearning for a fulfilling leisure or bleisure weekend away, with Saudi Arabia representing the main feeder market for Kuwait and noticeable increases coming from Qatar.
Shedding some light on Kuwait’s magnetism was general manager, Symphony Style Hotel Kuwait, Peter Schuler: “Kuwait has evolved into a true metropolitan area, offering a vast range of exceptional shopping experiences, fine dining and world-class hospitality services for all.”
Schuler explained that Kuwait has also successfully positioned itself as a cultural destination, and in recent years, many art and cultural centres, such as Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre, have opened their doors, which have introduced enthralling global musicals and plays to the city, as well as a number of upscale events.
“Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre, a new world-class museum district within Kuwait, is a must-visit venue,” he exclaimed.
But it’s not only the ‘artsy’ side of culture that’s being streamlined in Kuwait; food, which is very much part of the country’s heritage, is also being developed.
“Food plays an important role in Kuwaiti culture,” explained hotel in charge, Copthorne Kuwait City, Sherif Ayoub. “There is no such thing as a Kuwaiti restaurant anywhere in the world – Kuwaiti food can only be eaten in Kuwait. The most popular dish is the ‘Machboos’, which is chicken, beef or fish over specially spiced rice.”
According to Schuler of Symphony Style Hotel Kuwait, the country has embarked on ambitious plans to become the Food Capital of the World.
“This will help drive tourism, as people come to experience unrivalled tastes, flavours, choices and a high standard of cuisine,” he said.
Contributing to these plans, Symphony Style Hotel Kuwait has recently launched Chococafe Garden, which is an extension of the hotel’s popular Chococafé.
“Chococafe Garden is a fully air-conditioned, closed garden offering an inspiring range of food and beverages,” said Schuler. “It is the latest cool hangout in the city, where you can share moments with friends, watch live sports or watch the world go by over a specialty coffee or hot chocolate and fine food.”
The property has additionally launched a new tented venue, which is the perfect option for events and special occasions.
NEW OPTIONS, NEW PROJECTS
And while arts and culture are being further integrated into Kuwait’s ever-evolving portfolio of offerings, the country has also been strongly focusing on its retail proposition.
“The recently opened and expanded shopping malls of Al Kout and The Avenues offer superb retail and leisure experiences for locals and visitors alike,” noted Schuler.
Tamdeen Group’s Al Kout Mall opened its doors for business in April 2018 as part of the Al Kout project, which represents the country’s largest waterfront retail and leisure destination. The facility spans 100,000m2 and is home to 360 shops, dedicated dining areas and Infunity Sea, offering sea rides, shows and attractions. Looking ahead, the mall will soon welcome a restaurant terrace, Cinescape – a nine-screen, state-of-the-art movie theatre – in Q3 of 2018, and Kuwait Karting on its rooftop in 2019.
But what else is in store for the State of Kuwait? According to Ayoub of Copthorne Kuwait City, there are a number mega projects planned for northern region and the islands, in line with the Kuwait Vision 2035, that will feature billions of dollars’ worth of investments. These developments are expected to further entice tourists, visitors, residents and investors to the city.
“Kuwait is committed to elevating its tourism industry and aims to welcome 440,000 visitors a year by 2024,” Ayoub said. “There are a number of mega projects, such as Madinat Al Hareer (Silk City), underway. [This futuristic city] is expected to be completed in the year 2023 and will play host to Burj Mubarak, which will be the tallest building in Kuwait once finished,” he told TTG.
CONNECTIVITY IS KEY
Kuwait is forever committed to streamlining the travel experience and opening up to new markets, with its low-cost carrier, Jazeera Airways, leading the way.
Highlighting the country’s dedication, Kuwait International Airport is being expanded. Once the expansion is complete in 2025, it will be equipped to host an impressive 25 million travellers each year.
As for Jazeera Airways, the airline has been busy introducing new routes. In the last couple of months alone, the Kuwaiti carrier has launched daily services to Mumbai, India; three-times-weekly services to Tbilisi, Georgia; three-times-weekly direct services to Madinah, Saudi Arabia; and a three-times-weekly service to Lahore, Pakistan.
Adding to this, in May of this year, the airline began operating from its very own terminal (T5) at Kuwait International Airport, which spans 4,750m² and can handle an average of 1,200 bags per hour. This new terminal, designed to alleviate some of the airport’s traffic, houses 12 check-in counters, two car park check-in counters and self-service check-in kiosks, as well as its own passport control desks.
Speaking at the launch event in May, chairman, Jazeera Airways, Marwan Boodai declared: “The new terminal was designed to facilitate [the passenger] journey and provide them with a seamless travel experience. Our fast-paced travellers no longer have to worry about traffic at the airport.”
It may be small in size, but the wealthy State of Kuwait has big plans for its tourism industry and is home to tremendous potential.