Bold in manner and appearance, Kuwait is enhancing its tourism infrastructure to further entice travellers from the region and beyond. Tatiana Tsierkezou writes.
In recent months, Kuwait has been busy – very busy – with a slew of tourism related developments and enhancements. Although this Arab country is blessed with what seem to be never-ending oil reserves, it is looking at diversifying its economy by enhancing its tourism sector, and thus, is beckoning to travellers the world over, inviting them to come and encounter the inherently warm embrace of its people, its fabulous cuisine, its breath-taking modern architecture and the many experiences to be had.
Although there is plenty of room for improvement and enhancement, industry movers and shakers have expressed their satisfaction with the country’s performance in recent months and years.
Speaking to TTG exclusively about this was director of sales and marketing, The Palms Beach Hotel & Spa, Ahmed El Dackrouri: “In the last couple of years, Kuwait has made its mark in the world as a leading tourism destination, especially for GCC guests. Airlines such as Kuwait Airways and Jazeera Airways, new airports, shopping malls and other major attractions are the reason that the tourism industry strengthened greatly, with improving occupancies in Kuwait.”
Reflecting on last year specifically, El Dackrouri explained that Kuwait’s tourism sector had a fruitful summer.
“The hotel sector, and especially The Palms Beach Hotel & Spa, outperformed other GCC markets. Meanwhile, Kuwait benefitted from the Eid al Fitr and the Eid al Adha holidays, which led to increased demand, particularly from the domestic market and Saudi Arabian visitors,” he noted. “Basically, the GCC market overall is the elementary business lead in terms of leisure or even corporate guests.”
Also reflecting on a productive 2018 was general manager, Bobo Travel Co. (a full-service travel company), Ammar Kriker: “2018 was good in general, as we witnessed market growth from GCC markets visiting Kuwait. We also noticed many hospitality and tourism-related projects in the pipeline, which will positively impact businesses in the upcoming years.”
Kriker told TTG that Bobo Travel has seen many families from the GCC change their weekend destinations to come to Kuwait. “The country has also become the transit location for business travellers who want to have close connection points when they conduct their business meetings,” he declared.
INFRASTRUCTURE IS KEY
With positive sentiments coming from left, right and centre, it comes as no surprise that the State of Kuwait is working to capitalise on what could be a very profitable tourism sector. The potential is definitely there and stakeholders know this. And because of this fact, key entities are working to enhance infrastructure to facilitate a projected heightened number of tourists.
One extremely notable development is the launch of the new Terminal 4 (T4) at Kuwait International Airport, which has been meticulously developed and designed to cater to the needs of global travellers and international carriers. The new facility, designed by a Spanish branch of AECOM, is operated by South Korea’s Incheon International Airport Corp (IIAC), which was selected following a bidding process last year.
The sparkling new T4, which launched in mid-December 2018 and is a result of a $126 million investment, spans an impressive 55,000m². It is equipped to manage a total of 4.5 million annual passengers via its 14 gates and can accommodate approximately 2,450 cars.
The hub boasts five bus gates and nine boarding bridges gates, and can house eight aircraft at any one time. Its main role is to alleviate passenger traffic from Kuwait International Airport’s other terminals, which have reportedly been struggling with overcapacity for a while now.
Following the launch of this new facility, a total of 2,000 jobs will materialise, and according to reports, it is expected to generate up to $60 million in revenue each year.
Other enhancements at Kuwait International Airport include the launch of National Aviation Services’ (NAS) premium Derwaza Lounge, which recently reopened following an extensive facelift.
Those making use of this lavish new lounge can enjoy its fresh new look and its fabulous facilities, all of which are based on NAS’s award-winning lounge concept.
Spanning 585m2, the lounge is home to plenty of seating, a business centre, private workspaces, meeting rooms and a children’s room. Travellers wishing to tantalise their taste-buds can do so with a delicious hot and cold buffet, live cooking stations, refreshments and beverages.
Other notable features at the Derwaza Lounge, which has been designed to suit the needs of outbound and arriving passengers, include unique soundproof telephone booths, free WiFi, live streaming TV channels, plenty of reading material, a prayer room, shower facilities and a cigar room.
Upon its launch, group CEO, NAS, Hassan El-Houry remarked: “NAS has been operating the Derwaza Lounge since 2009. As a fast-growing company based in Kuwait, it is our top most priority to ensure that we offer world-class facilities and services to the airports in Kuwait. The refurbishment of the Derwaza Lounge comes as part of these continued investments.”
And while these exciting airport updates have been warmly welcomed by locals and international travellers, so has a new hospitality entity, which has changed the face of Kuwait’s already impressive hospitality portfolio.
Following a collaboration between Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Tamdeen Group, Hyatt Regency Al Kout Mall opened its doors in Kuwait earlier in the month, marking the exciting reintroduction of the Hyatt Regency brand to Kuwait. This collaboration will also bring forth a second Hyatt-branded property, Grand Hyatt Kuwait, which will open for business in 2020.
But going back to the brand-new Hyatt Regency Al Kout Mall; the property stands in a waterfront retail and leisure destination, and grants visitors and guests seamless access to Al Kout Mall, Souq Al Kout, Al Kout Marina, Al Kout Fisherman’s Wharf and the Al Kout seaside promenade.
On the launch, chairman, Tamdeen Group, Mohammed Jassim Khalid Al Marzouq said: “We are excited to welcome the Hyatt Regency brand back to Kuwait. We are certain that the Hyatt Regency brand, known for its superior facilities and seamless service, will resonate with business and leisure travellers visiting Kuwait, and we look forward to our continued collaboration and future openings in this dynamic city.”
Meanwhile, the new hotel’s general manager, Fadi Akeel, elucidated: “With the convenient location of the property and our exceptional hotel facilities, we are thrilled to welcome guests to Hyatt Regency Al Kout Mall, an ideal space for our guests to work, engage or relax. It has been a great pleasure to continue our relationship with the esteemed Tamdeen Group and we look forward to continued success.”
In the perfect location, the hotel not only offers seamless access to leisure and retail opportunities, but is a mere 25 minutes from Kuwait International Airport and a 45-minute drive from the Saudi border.
As well as 200 beautifully designed guestrooms, which include 53 Junior Suites, 67 Regency Suites and 14 two-bedroom Premium Suites, the hotel houses a wide variety of F&B offerings; 2,400m2 of meeting and events space, including meeting rooms and the pillarless Regency Ballroom; a 24-hour fitness centre, entitled Club Olympus, which is fully equipped with strength, cardiovascular and weight training machines, along with its own sauna; plus much, much more.
Exciting industry developments are paving the way to further tourism success and Kuwait will stop at nothing to achieve its goals.