A destination management company based in Kuwait handled around 9,000 visitors to the country in 2007.
The company is optimistic about the tourism potential in the country, but there is still a long way to go. TTN spoke to director and founder of Prime One, Eddie Fernandes
Most of Prime One’s visitors for 2007 came from Japan followed by, in order of numbers, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea, the United States, Britain, India, the Middle East, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Russia and more recently Mongolia.
“The main reason they come to this area is because of our package known as the “Arabian Pearl”. Visitors take in Kuwait, UAE, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain, which gives clients an insight into all the Gulf countries with their individual Arab heritages and traditions.
“Most of these visitors are really interested in getting to know the locals and their lifestyle. Many want to know more about the invasion of Kuwait and the recent Gulf War. In fact, most of our ground handling service involves helping the army with logistics, hence proving that we are catering to all needs, whether local or international,” said Fernandes.
Among the groups interested in discovering more about Kuwait were newly recruited army personnel.
“We recently started to organise sightseeing tours of Kuwait City primarily for the new US army replacements that come to Kuwait for the first time, and the experience they have here is more than what they could possibly have imagined,” he said.
“We are also chartering flights from Japan to Kuwait - this came into effect in March 2007. This has been on a regular basis (every three months) bringing nearly 1800 clients in total,” said Fernandes.
For all tourists groups including the army groups, Prime One arranges cruises in traditional dhows or yachts, with catering provided by a five star hotel. It also has a desert camp in the Julai’a area where a day in the desert is organised complete with games, camel riding, horse riding, dirt buggies, traditional Arabic music, a barbeque and shisha.
During 2006 and 2007 the company also handled cruise ships bringing European and American tourists to Kuwait, managing all the ground efforts and shore excursions.
Prime One has also opened branches in the Gulf in the UAE, Qatar and Oman.
Fernandes said that many of their visitors came to Kuwait specifically for meetings, where a range of MICE facilities are available at the many four and five star hotels in Kuwait.
“Our company has multilingual tour guides that speak German, French, Italian, Russian, Arabic, Hindi, Thai, Indonesian and Chinese. While almost all of the tourists that come here take our organised tours we would prefer to arrange tailor-made tours to suit their individual requirements,” he said. “They would get a lot more out of their visit this way.”
The most popular places to visit include Kuwait Towers, the traditional heritage souk, the Grand Mosque, Kuwait National Museum, Bayt Al Sadu (house of weaving), Kuwait Memorial Museum (depicting the history of the invasion of 1990), Al Qurain Martyr’s House (ruins of the invasion), Friday Market, Avenue Mall, Kuwait Oil Display Museum and the Kuwait Scientific Center.
Early in 2008 the company will be offering weekend packages for families which will include hotel accommodation for two nights / three days, complimentary airport transfers and breakfast, and free tickets for two people to the Kuwait Scientific Center where the aquarium lies.
“The project is still being discussed with the relevant interested hotels and will be announced through newspapers and road shows to the Gulf region by January 2008,” said Fernandes. The company will also soon announce a special offer for locals and residents of Kuwait to use the desert camp facilities for special occasions.
Fernandes has been working in the tourism field in Kuwait since 1996, and established the company in January 2006.
He maintains that Kuwait City is gradually changing its old face, with high rising building appearing every month. New highways and roads are being constructed to ease the flow of traffic. The Kuwait coastline is being developed by the Ministry of Public Works, bringing to the area much needed greenery, sports facilities such as beach volleyball courts for the younger generation, new shopping mall projects and fast food outlets.
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