Unveiling its plans for future growth and market expansion in the GCC, Rotana, one of the leading hotel management companies in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and Eastern Europe, said on 9 February that it expects the trend of intra-regional travel to pick up further pace this year, bringing positive momentum to the hospitality industry in Kuwait and the wider region. Speaking on the sidelines of the Rotana Hotels 2017 GCC Roadshow, Guy Hutchinson, Rotana’s Chief Operating Officer, also said the tourism sector in Kuwait will benefit from continued government spending on infrastructure.
He added, however, that hospitality sector growth across the region will remain moderate through much of 2017 due to persisting economic and geopolitical challenges, with occupancy rates likely to hover around 2016 numbers.
Rotana – currently in the midst of an aggressive regional expansion – is set to add a second property in Kuwait by 2020 with the opening of Centro. This will be the first Rotana hotel to open in the country under the ‘Centro by Rotana’ brand – the company’s lifestyle affordable hotel brand. Once complete, the new hotel will add 209 rooms to the company’s existing inventory of 198 rooms in Kuwait, bringing the total tally to over 400 keys.
“Kuwait has always been a strong business tourism destination, and with billions of dollars now being poured into mega infrastructure projects such as the Clean Fuels Project and the new refinery project in Al-Zour, the country’s business travel potential is at an all-time high,” Hutchinson said. “Kuwait is also witnessing a spurt in tourist arrivals from within the GCC – particularly Saudi Arabia and Qatar – thanks to the government’s focus on developing the country’s leisure and entertainment sector. Rotana is looking to tap into the opportunities thrown up by these trends by opening our first Centro hotel in Kuwait, which will cater to the demands of the new generation of travellers who seek both finesse and functionality at reasonable rates.”
He added, “While the hospitality sector in Kuwait has indeed come a long way, there remains an urgent need for more budget and mid-market hotels in the country. Bringing a greater level of choice and affordability to the market can have a decisive influence on the country’s ability to attract a broad range of visitors and, by extension, achieve its tourism goals. Rotana is looking to fill this gap in the market by introducing to Kuwait our Centro brand, which has redefined the rules of the mid-market game by combining world-class service and comfort in an affordable package.”
Besides being one of the region’s fastest-growing inbound tourism markets, Kuwait is also a key driver of travel demand for Rotana hotels across the region. In 2016, the company registered a 9 percent increase year-on-year in Kuwaiti room nights.
Commenting on the trends that will drive tourism and hospitality growth in Kuwait and the region in 2017, Hutchinson said, “Intra-regional travellers from the GCC remain the dominant source market for Rotana and the industry as a whole, and this trend will likely gather more momentum in the coming months. Technology advances will continue to transform the way the hospitality industry functions, with the use of mobile apps becoming more ubiquitous, and dynamic pricing strategies will keep gaining in popularity. Although we expect some of the economic and geopolitical challenges of last year to spill over into 2017, overall, we feel the increase in supply will make the market more competitive in 2017, leading hospitality players to focus on innovation and resource optimisation while creating enhanced value for guests.”
As part of the government’s efforts to boost tourism figures, the Kuwait International Airport is undertaking a US$ 4.31 billion expansion that will see a new passenger terminal built within the next five years. The expansion project is set to boost the airport’s capacity to 25 million passengers per year.