According to latest data, the tourism sector in Kuwait has had a good summer this year, with its hotel sector having outperformed those in other GCC markets.
According to report by TRI Consulting Middle East, released in September, Kuwait and UAE were the only countries in the MENA region in which, hotels performed well during August, which is usually one of the slowest months in the region.
Kuwait benefitted from Eid al Fitr holidays which led to increased demand, particularly from domestic and Saudi Arabian visitors, the report said.
Hotel occupancy rate grew 3.4 percent, to touch 37 percent, while average room rate grew 12 percent to hit $271.72, resulting in 23.3 percent increase in revenue per available room.
All these show positive signs, but the tourism sector remains largely underdeveloped and Kuwait still needs to have variety of tourist attractions in comparison to its neighbors.
The government released a five-year tourism development plan in 2011. Therefore, by 2017, Kuwait aims to welcome at least one million tourists annually, said Khaled Al Ghanim, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Kuwait Touristic Enterprises Company.
The World Travel and Tourism Council expect tourist arrival to touch 331,000 in 2013, growing by 3.6 percent annually, to hit 485,000 by 2023.
Over the past decade, it has been found that growth is possible. The GCC Hospitality Industry Report 2013 by Alpen Capital includes expenses incurred on hotels, restaurants, travel and communication grew at the rate of 12.8 percent.
This has been primarily due to increased business tourism and from the year 2011, leisure spending accounted for 60 percent of the market.
However, Kuwait still remains in lower end of the spectrum, as in the GCC region, the leisure market accounts for 70 percent of tourism spending.
Boosting leisure tourism is an important part of state’s plans. New leisure amenities are likely to roll-out of several of planned hotels.
Several four and five star resorts are likely to open in Kuwait by 2020, including the projects falling under the InterContinental Hotel Group umbrella, the Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel and Spa, while Kuwait’s Partnership Technical Bureau has listed development of resorts and a marina on Failaka Island as priority project.
Other developments include re-opening of Radisson Blu Hotel after renovation, announcement that Millennium and Copthome Hotels, management of new Millennium hotels.
In September 2012, Kuwait Municipality unveiled a proposal to develop a series of luxury hotels. Authorities plan to develop properties at the Fair Ground, Al Salam Palace and Sabah Al Salem University by teaming with private sector.
However, hotel operators are waiting for the market to be more mature before it gets ready to receive top-end resorts.
While Kuwait’s efforts to boost visitor numbers are gathering pace, growing attractions and retail developments will pivotal, too.