Tourism board 'key to strengthen industry'

The new-look pool and bedroom.

Kuwait has been urged to set up a tourism board to look at all aspects of developing the country as a tourist destination.

"Serious action and steps have to be taken by the government," says Jagdeep Pillai, regional marketing manager at Le Meridien Hotels Middle East & West Asia.

"If that will not happen, Kuwait will remain the same after five years and the average occupancy at the hotels will go down year on year."

Industry sources point out that the growth in number of visitors to Kuwait has lagged behind the growth in number of hotels in the country, resulting in a drop in occupancy in the five-star hotels.

Pillai also urged the government to link the Hala February festival celebrations to the Eid festivities to gain more tourism business.

He said Le Meridien Kuwait had recently spent $15 million to refurbish the property, adding a new health club with gym, pool, sauna, steam and beauty treatments.

A new Royal Club, superior rooms and suites, new ballroom, and a revamp of the hotel's restaurants were also part of the refurbishment programme.

Le Meridien Kuwait was primarily geared towards business travellers who make up 55 per cent of its customer base compared to 14 per cent of leisure travellers. Average occupancy this year before the September 11 attacks in the US had been at 53.6 per cent.

Pillai said Gulf neighbours Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and UAE were among the Kuwait hotel's main markets along with visitors from UK, USA, France, Japan and local visitors.

He said the Middle East accounted for 42 per cent of the hotel's business.

Le Meridien Kuwait is offering special discounted rates to guests arriving into Kuwait by the national carrier Kuwait Airways and those arriving by road until February 28 as part of a Hala festival promotion.

Single rooms are available at KD30 ($98) and a double room for KD35, a hotel spokesman said.

The hotel has also linked up with Emirates frequent flyer programme to offer all Skyward Gold cardholders staying in the hotel complimentary use of the services in the Royal Club lounge throughout 2002.

Located in the heart of the city's business and financial districts, the hotel has 291 spacious and tastefully furnished bedrooms, including the superbly furnished Royal Club and the all-suites Amiri Floor.

It offers a range of dining and entertainment options including La Brasserie famed for its international buffet menu and theme nights, Terrace Grill serving the finest of steaks, CafŽ Royal which serves a variety of snacks, breads and pastries and the recent addition KEI offering Teppanyaki, Sushi and a la carte dining.

The hotel's ballroom and conference facilities include the artistically designed Al Thuraya ballroom, the Al Jahra Ballroom, Al Salhia Hall and 6 additional meeting rooms.

The hotel's Club Elite is to shortly launch its exclusive range of beauty treatments, which will include special wedding and daily packages besides professional facial and body treatments.