Kuwait returns to Dubai this April to showcase its tourism offering at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2016, which takes place 25-28 April, as investment into the travel and tourism sector is forecasted to grow by 4.3% per annum over the next decade through to 2025, with a total investment figure of KWD 276 million (USD 1 billion).
Kuwait’s strategy for long-term tourism growth received a boost in 2015, with airport passenger volume growing from around 10 million travellers in 2014 to just over 10.2 million last year as the Gulf state ploughs ahead with plans to expand its transportation infrastructure.
According to a World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) report entitled ‘Kuwait Travel and Tourism Economic Impact 2015’, tourism accounted for 1.5% of total GDP in 2015, and is set to rise by 0.3% by 2025, although this is being revisited given the current low oil prices scenario. This would take total GDP contribution to 1.8%, or KWD1.6 billion in 2025.
The report also highlighted potential gains in leisure spend, which is expected to grow by 6.2% per annum to KWD 2.4 billion in 2025, while business travel is expected to grow by 5.6% per annum to KWD457.3 million in 2025.
“Kuwait is focused on adding new high profile brands to its hotel mix as well as opening up the country with its expansion programme for Kuwait International airport,” said Nadege Noblet-Segers, Exhibition Manager, Arabian Travel Market.
WTTC predictions put tourist arrivals at 440,000 by 2024 - up from 270,000 in 2014 – and increased capacity will be the catalyst for sector gains moving forward with leisure travel spending set to rise by 6.2% per annum through to 2025, and business travel, which saw a dip in 2015, forecast to pick up in the next 10 years with annual growth of 5.6%.
Kuwait also has a high domestic travel spend component, which generated 88.1% of direct Travel & Tourism GDP in 2014, and is expected to increase by 6.4% per annum through to 2025.
The country’s hotel pipeline is also adding new value to the tourism mix with an under-development collection of new luxury and more affordable accommodation options.
High-end brands such as Four Seasons, which will open its first 263-key Kuwait property at Burj Alshaya at the end of 2016, will be joined by the Mercure Kuwait (2017), Hilton Olympia Kuwait in 2019 and a Grand Hyatt in 2020.
It is also entering new mid-market territory with a number of upcoming projects including the 160-room Novotel Sharq (2017) and several Rotana properties, with a Centro Rotana set to debut in 2018 with 200 rooms.
“As we are seeing in other GCC countries, an increasingly diversified tourism portfolio requires an equally broad hospitality offering, looking at both the luxury and mid-range categories, which is something that we are focusing on this year at ATM with midmarket travel our spotlight theme,” said Noblet-Segers.
According to the Q3 2015 YouGov Travel Oracle insight report, one-third (36%) of surveyed leisure travellers from the region now choose budget hotels when travelling for pleasure, with Asian expats the most likely to opt for low cost accommodation (52%) and 35% of all respondents stating that reasonable cost is one of the most important elements when considering a leisure destination.
ATM 2016 will build on the success of this year’s edition with the announcement of an additional hall as Reed Travel Exhibitions looks to add to its record-breaking achievements earlier this year. ATM 2015 witnessed a year-on-year visitor attendance increase of 15% to over 26,000, with exhibiting companies increasing by 5% to 2,873. Business deals worth more than US$2.5 billion were signed over the four days.