Kuwait’s goal of welcoming one million tourists will be their focus at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2015 as the Government’s current five-year plan for travel and tourism sector development reaches a climax for all sectors of the industry.
“World Travel and Tourism Council predictions put tourist arrivals at 440,000 by 2024 - up from 270,000 in 2014 - and the government has ploughed US$13 billion into infrastructure development, which is accelerating opportunities for Kuwait’s tourism sector as a whole,” said Nadege Noblet, Exhibition Manager for Arabian Travel Market, which takes place at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre, on 4-7 May 2015.
According to the Aranca Q3 2014 MENA Tourism & Hospitality Report, Kuwait’s tourism sector is undergoing a sea change with a number of new projects in the pipeline.
These include a new passenger terminal at Kuwait International Airport, which is being spearheaded by the Kuwait Directorate General of Civil Aviation. Scheduled for completion in 2016, the US$4.8 billion contract will increase capacity from six million in 2013 to 13 million by 2016, and up to 25 million per annum by 2025, according to the Centre for Aviation (CAPA).
In January this year, local carrier Jazeera Airways reported a 22% year-on-year increase in passenger movements for the period, following consecutive increases in both November and December 2014. In particular, the airline registered a 32% increase on its Istanbul, Beirut and Amman routes and 20% growth on its GCC routes.
A new 160 kilometre-long metro system is also under construction along with the planned Kuwait National Rail Road System - a 511 kilometre-long integrated rail network that will greatly enhance domestic and regional travel opportunities.
Kuwaiti companies exhibiting at this year’s ATM include the Ministry of Commerce and Industry Tourism Sector, Kuwait Airways, Holidays Arabia, and first time participant, Kuwait Concierge Company-Call Center WLL.
Major tourism development entities including the Kuwait Touristic Enterprises Company (TEC), are launching a number of entertainment and sports projects valued at around US$460 million, while hotel room supply is forecast to rise by almost one-third, with up to 10,000 rooms scheduled to come online by the end of 2015.
“Jumeirah opened the doors to its Messilah Beach Hotel and Spa late last year and several four and five-star resorts are also set to open this year, including projects from IHG and Millennium while the Government plans to transform Failaka Island and Boubyan Island into top leisure tourism destinations,” Noblet noted.
STR Global’s November 2014 Hotel Market Overview put year-to-date room occupancy at 51.8% with an average daily rate of US$253.07. Kuwait currently has around 7,256 hotel rooms with a further 1,958 rooms and up to seven contracted hotels and resorts in the pipeline.
The Aranca report also highlighted the importance of Saudi Arabian visitors as a key source market for Kuwait, with leisure and business travellers making a significant contribution to sector revenues.
“Saudis historically opt for Kuwait as a convenient destination for short getaways, Eid vacations etc., and the tourism sector is hugely reliant on this traffic,” said Noblet.
According to MEED intelligence, the top 10 projects currently under development in the country cover a wide range of activities from a US$416 million investment by the Amir Diwan for the Abdulla Al Salem Cultural Centre and Tamdeen’s US$206 million Al Kout Mall, to the US$200 million Jaber Al Ahmed City Olympic Village and the country’s largest retail development to date, The Avenues, with two further US$150 million apiece phases also making the list.
“This collectively represents over US$2 billion worth of investment, and ATM will give exhibitors a unique platform to reach out to existing and prospective partners who will help drive new business to the country,” said Noblet.
The 2015 event will also build on the success of last year’s edition with the announcement of an additional hall adding an additional 2,000 square metres of floor space as Reed Travel Exhibitions looks to add to its record-breaking achievements in 2014. Last year ATM saw total attendance increase by 12% with 33,000 participants from over 131 countries, and business deals signed worth more than US$ 2.1 billion over the four days.