Destination Kuwait

With a quiet yet determined way about its hospitality sector, this dedicated destination is looking confidently to the future to adroitly sharpen its approach. Natalie Hami reports.

Kuwait has long been renowned as an entertainment haven for families from the GCC region and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, however it now seems that this most trusted and fundamental industry player is decisively looking to hone its tourism product, focusing on its key strengths: serving corporates and catering to regional leisure travellers.

According to comments made by Assistant Undersecretary, Kuwaiti Ministry of Commerce and Industry for Tourism, Samira Al-Ghareeb to the Kuwait News Agency following the 17th meeting of Arab ministers of tourism, the destination is keen to not only tap into its tourism potential but continue to refine the family tourism segment through various projects, such as a new airport, all forming part of the country’s five-year development drive.

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This sentiment was also aptly expressed from stakeholders in hospitality, namely by director of business development and marketing, Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa, Kuwait, Ahmed Jarkass who commented to TTG on the benefits of these actions: “All the infrastructure developments that are aimed at creating a truly attractive destination for both business as well as leisure travellers will benefit not just our hotel but the entire hospitality sector. Such developments will enable us to provide greater value for our guests and attract more visitors from this region and beyond.”

Meanwhile general manager, Mövenpick Hotel Kuwait, Hassan Hassanein took a step in the global direction, pointing out that Kuwait needs to look to many channels that attract the international market and focus its attention on positioning itself as a global player.

“Kuwait’s tourism sector is dominated by the corporate and government segments, especially due to the country’s natural resources and high spending power. Yet the country is also a haven for visitors from neighbouring countries, who visit mostly during the weekends and holidays.”

Kuwait’s strengths were most aptly expressed by deputy general manager, Ritz Travel and Tourism, Fawaz Alrafei who commented to TTG: “Kuwait’s unique selling points are its upcoming new hotels on the seafront, super-large malls with the best of international boutiques, restaurants, shopping promotions and also the revival of Kuwait’s cultural heritage. Excellent weather, especially from the months of November to April, is always considered an added attraction for tourists in the Middle

East to flock to Kuwait. Shopping prices are also very reasonable to suit everyone’s pockets.” It is clear that the destination’s travel and tourism industry has begun to work diligently and effectively to distinguish itself further in these particular segments.

According to Kuwait Tourism Services, bolstering the country’s tourism product are a number of upcoming hotels from major international brands, including the opening of a Park Hyatt and a Four Seasons as well as an extension to the Crowne Plaza.

Thus, while the Kuwaiti government eagerly embarks on the route to create a more distinguished and streamlined tourism offering, existing properties are never far behind, constantly enhancing the guest experience.

INNATE DRIVE

With both sectors of the industry working in tandem, a number of Kuwait’s prestigious properties are focusing on the short and long-stay segment.

General manager, Ibis Salmiya, Bruno Debray commented exclusively to TTG that given the hotel’s newly furnished family suites, the property plans on targeting new potential accounts for long-stay in the executive segment.

Developing its strategy along similar lines, whilst also taking into consideration the infrastructural changes taking place in the destination, is Mövenpick Hotel & Resort Al Bida’a, whose general manager, Maged Gubr told TTG: “Our strategies and goals for 2015 will mainly focus on promoting the hotel as one of the most convenient options for short and long-term guests, especially for the new arrivals, as Kuwait is witnessing large investments towards transport infrastructure, which will stimulate massive visitor arrivals in the future.”

He added that for long-stay guests, the hotel offers a choice of two-, three- and four-bedroom villas, each with a fully-equipped kitchen, lounge area and dining area.

“Our goal next year will be to increase the units of the long-stay to 100 units, which means 20 per cent more than the current business we have.”

A similar sentiment was echoed by Hassanein who told TTG: “Certainly there is currently a focus on short and medium-term intraregional travel. In particular, GCC families on short breaks or visiting relatives on a long-term basis, create a definite potential for Kuwait to position itself as one of the leading leisure destinations in the GCC.”

And as Kuwait begins to ready itself for a mightier title, the destination’s hotels in turn look to boost the guest experience, with a keen eye on leisure.

General manager, The Regency Kuwait, Aurelio Giraudo commented to TTG that they certainly will not be sitting on their laurels. “Fine tuning what is already here is one thing, but taking an extra leap out of our own comfort zone to create new projects and improve in every area is what we require if we are to be mentioned in the same breath as the most iconic hotels from every capital city.”

Debray also pointed out the importance of competition within the hospitality industry, noting that going forward Ibis Salmiya plans to further explore the leisure market. “Competition is always positive in terms of market dynamism and product quality. We are always keen to explore the leisure market and we know that most of it is coming from the GCC. Our group and our brand are very much focusing on the regional market for business and leisure.”

Meanwhile, Jarkass exclusively told TTG that apart from corporate, one of the property’s key aims is to cater to leisure guests from neighbouring countries such as the KSA, UAE and Qatar. “Many become repeat guests and view our hotel as a complete destination that meets their expectations.”

With inherent trust in Kuwait’s tourism product, from its neighbours, the destination is now going one step further to perfect various tried and tested segments of the industry.