Despite the fact that Kuwait borders Iraq - currently at the epicenter of media and geo-political focus - the country has taken many measures to promote tourism, says Michael Henssler, general manager for the Kempinski Julai'a Hotel and Resort.
"Visa restrictions have been eased, allowing stays of up to three months," he says, adding that hotels and airlines have recently been permitted to issue visas directly to overseas clientele.
Henssler says that the long-term benefits of greater foreign investment is finding a growing acceptance in Kuwait, stimulating privatisation.
"A new law has been put forward for ratification by the parliament to allow foreign investment into the Kuwait Stock Exchange. There are also several major future governmental petroleum projects that could fuel demand for hotel accommodation."
The Kempinski Julai'a is planning on building a 'comprehensive range' of conference facilities, which according to Henssler will fill the current gap in the resort within the region
According to Henssler the proposed facility will be split into two areas: a multi-purpose event hall featuring a cinema and a selection of smaller meeting rooms customised with advanced training tools.
A designer health and wellness centre, offering a gymnasium, treatment rooms, sauna and hamam will be complimentary to guests, and membership will be available to local residents. Additional leisure facilities will include a diving centre, water-sports, swimming pools, squash courts, boutiques, and land sports such as bicycles and quad biking. A fully-fledged Family Entertainment Centre is also planned.
Henssler says that with Kuwait's healthy economy and large, disposable income the demand for branded products is very essential.
The hotel industry, he says, seems to be growing.
"In 2003 alone there will be a 30 per cent increase in room inventory. Kuwait Tourism Services Company along with the hotels, travel agents and national carrier will be at the WTM promoting Kuwait as a leisure destination. Kuwait has a strong market and has high interest for outbound and future potential for inbound."
Henssler describes the Kempinski as being a collection of individuals targeted to discerning individuals.
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