KUWAIT: US Ambassador to Kuwait Lawrence Silverman speaks during a travel and tourism event held yesterday at the Sheraton Hotel. — Photos by Joseph Shagra

KUWAIT: More than 87,000 Kuwaitis travelled to the United States for tourism or education last year, US Ambassador to Kuwait Lawrence Silverman revealed as he opened a travel and tourism event yesterday at the Sheraton Hotel. The event was sponsored by Qatar Airways and attended by travel agencies and the local media.

"In the past several years, Kuwaitis have visited the United States in ever-growing numbers. Kuwaitis entered the United States more than 87,000 times in 2016. I encourage Kuwaitis to continue to explore new American destinations as well as old favorites. There has been a concern in recent months that the number of international travelers to the United States may be declining, in part due to perceptions that the United States may not welcome international travelers. Let me assure you that the United States welcomes you," he assured.

He thanked Qatar Airways for collaborating and providing support for yesterday's event. "Via Doha, Qatar Airways flies to 10 American destinations, and in 2018 plans to add two more US destinations to their flight schedule - Las Vegas and San Francisco," Silverman said. At the event, the US Embassy held a video presentation of some beautiful places to visit in the United States. "Many of you have visited the United States, and as you know, there are many things to see and do from coast to coast: National parks, world-class beaches, global cities, museums, top restaurants, shopping, sports and adventure tourism, to name just a few," he said.

"New York is the most popular US destination for visitors from this region, and while it is a great city, my hometown of Boston, like many others, is full of culture, history and fun things to do. I encourage you to think broadly and promote all of America, from coast to coast, and from north to south. As I've learned during my time here, Kuwaitis love to explore. And some of them have seen more of the United States than I have," Silverman added. The embassy also answered queries, ranging from visas to airlines and restrictions. A US visa can be acquired and processed in two working days after applying, it said.

Stress-free experience

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al-Baker, said: "We are proud to have supported the US Embassy event in Kuwait. Our partnership with the US Embassy to educate travel agents aims to provide our passengers departing from Kuwait a stress-free travel experience to the US through our state-of-the-art Hamad International Airport to any one of our 10 popular destinations in the US, including New York, Washington, Miami, Houston and Chicago. We are delighted to be adding Las Vegas and San Francisco to our US operations, and we look forward to bringing even more passengers to the US."

Additional flights from Kuwait are planned for the summer, one arriving in Doha at 06:30 am local time, making it ideal for travellers to connect to exciting destinations in the US, with a transit time of less than two hours. The award-winning airline offers passengers departing from Kuwait to the US the luxury of two pieces of checked baggage allowance of 32 kg each at no additional cost. After the recent electronics restrictions on flights departing from the region to the US, the multiple award-winning airline promptly found a unique solution: Offering passengers a laptop loan service. Showing true commitment to travellers inconvenienced by the ban, the Doha-based airline took the notable step to purchase laptops available for complimentary loan on all of its US flights, ensuring uninterrupted productivity and service for Business Class passengers travelling on all US-bound flights.

By Ben Garcia