MAR­KET UP­DATE

Kuwait’s tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor is still play­ing catch up com­pared to its GCC peers. But with visi­tor num­bers ex­pected to grow to 570,000 by 2027, the oil-de­pen­dent na­tion is mak­ing se­ri­ous ef­forts to di­ver­sify its econ­omy

Hotelier Middle East - - CONTENTS - By Shishira Sreenivas

Hote­lier Mid­dle East takes a look at Kuwait’s chang­ing hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor as the coun­try shows growth in sup­ply.

In the past cou­ple of years, as the oil prices have started to fluc­tu­ate and dip, coun­tries within the GCC have been stead­fastly try­ing to di­ver­sify their economies. One of the prom­i­nent strate­gies for these coun­tries to adopt has been to pivot to tourism and in­vest in its de­vel­op­ment. For Kuwait, which as of 2017, drew about 40% of its gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP) from oil rev­enues and where oil gen­er­ated an im­pres­sive 92% from ex­port rev­enues, the shift to tourism has been a grad­ual one as its slowly wak­ing up to a prob­a­ble re­al­ity of a post-oil era.

How­ever, un­like its neigh­bours like the UAE and Saudi Ara­bia, Kuwait’s tourism in­dus­try is rel­a­tively un­derde­vel­oped. In 2017, ac­cord­ing to the World Travel and Tourism Coun­cil (WTTC), the di­rect con­tri­bu­tion of travel and tourism to the GDP ac­counted for only 2.8% of the to­tal GDP. The Kuwaiti govern­ment, how­ever, is ac­tively try­ing to push for pos­i­tive and steady growth in the tourism and ho­tel sec­tor with a vi­sion of at­tract­ing 440,000 vis­i­tors an­nu­ally by 2024. And this, Swiss-bel­ho­tel In­ter­na­tional se­nior vice pres­i­dent of op­er­a­tions Lau­rent A. Voivenel says is “fu­elling de­mand for qual­ity ho­tels”.

“The govern­ment is mak­ing huge in­vest­ments in en­hanc­ing tourism in­fras­truc­ture as well as de­vel­op­ing new leisure and life­style at­trac­tions. It is the per­fect time for us to en­ter Kuwait when the coun­try is evolv­ing into a mul­ti­fac­eted des­ti­na­tion with the de­vel­op­ment of di­verse at­trac­tions for both cor­po­rate and leisure vis­i­tors,” Voivenel adds.

Ac­cord­ing to TRI Con­sult­ing di­rec­tor Christo­pher Hewett, cor­po­rate trav­ellers make up the largest seg­ment of the Mid­dle East­ern coun­try and drove the most de­mand for ho­tel room nights in 2017. “Cor­po­rate de­mand re­mained the largest de­mand driver with 38.3% of room nights, fol­lowed by non-al­lo­cated at 22.9%, re­tail at 19.3% and leisure at 13.0%,” Hewett re­veals.

Copthorne Kuwait City lobby.

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