Kuwait lacks independent tourism authority
KUWAIT CITY, May 16: The advisory team for economic affairs estimates the Kuwaiti tourists annually spends about 3.3 billion dollars abroad and local investors ponder over how to benefit from the situation after the end of the total curfew and life returns to normal gradually, reports Al-Qabas daily.
The corona crisis has brought to the fore domestic tourism, which has been suffering from government neglect for decades. This is represented in the noticeable decline in spending on local tourism during the past three years, despite the continuing demands to take into account tourism projects in Kuwait and transfer a large part of the tourism bill and travel from abroad to inside.
Kuwait has missed many opportunities to develop its tourism sector in the past, but corona restored the opportunity and it requires serious steps and deliberate plans, and before that all that is needed is a decisive decision to put Kuwait on the global tourism map.
With the collapse of oil prices and the budget entering an increasing deficit annually, the government has no choice but to diversify sources of income by developing economic sectors, including tourism, which is one of the most important opportunities which can achieve diversification of sources of income and sustainable development.
Expectations indicate a decrease of no less than 50% of travel expenses, as a result of the closure of airports, as of the second quarter, in light of expectations for the gradual return of life to normal after the Eid al-Fitr holidays, until the beginning of the last quarter of 2020 in various countries of the world.
The impact of corona crisis in terms of traveling abroad may benefit domestic tourism, especially after a relatively long period of curfew. On the other hand, there are questions about the elements of domestic tourism in Kuwait and its ability to receive residents after a long period of total and partial ban and unlike most countries of the world that depend on open tourist areas, the atmosphere of Kuwait during the summer months is not conducive to open projects and therefore the commercial complexes and shopping centers that have become a landmark of modern Kuwait famous among which are ‘The Avenues’ the Marina, the Souq Sharq, the 360 Mall, Al-Kout and others will be the alternative available with the application of the rules of social distancing, along with historical monuments, heritage sites, and nature reserves.
It is believed many citizens and residents after the ban period will prefer to go shopping on their own, which increases expectations of a contraction in electronic shopping, which is experiencing a boom during the current period, taking advantage of the ban and home quarantine.
In light of the restrictions imposed on theaters and cinemas, the revival of drive-in cinema has become an urgent necessity with the organization of night theatrical performances in open spaces, depending on the ‘mobile’ desert air conditioning, while applying preventive health measures to preserve the health of people and provide entertainment for them.
As for restaurants, they will remain the preferred destination for Kuwaiti families when life returns to normal, with the application of standardized distancing procedures, either by setting the occupancy rate of 30% as is the case in neighboring countries, or by reducing the number of tables and increasing inter spaces.
The average Kuwaiti spends on tourism, travel and entertainment 11% of his income annually, topping the rest of the citizens of the ‘Gulf’ countries with average spending about 2,910 dollars (881 dinars), per trip which is higher than the Gulf average, which is 1,770 dollars, according to studies of the World Tourism Organization.
The Touristic Enterprises Company, which was established in 1976 with the aim of supervising tourist sites and recreational facilities in Kuwait, has failed in recent years to achieve its goals, and despite its strong start and the support provided by the government, its role has recently deteriorated, in the number and quality of projects it undertakes, and this prompted the government to withdraw some projects from it, the most prominent of which is the “Entertainment City”, which the Amiri Diwan has been assigned to develop.
At a time when many neighboring countries are resorting to building artificial islands in order to develop tourism, Kuwait possesses a great tourism wealth represented in the five islands, and the project of developing them collects dust in the drawers, in light of expectations that this project will achieve investment returns of up to 10 billion of dinars annually
The development of the coastal strip will increase tourist projects in Kuwait, and increase the state’s revenues resulting from renting these places to companies and initiators in exchange for using them.
However, Kuwait suffers from the absence of an independent tourism authority, and this is a dilemma that must find its way to a solution, if the government is serious about developing the tourism sector, knowing that the project to establish the authority was buried by a government decision, when it decided not to create new bodies.
The tourism sector in Kuwait also suffers from instability for decades, which is evident in the transfer of its dependency between the various ministries, without a clear road map to benefit from it, as the tourism sector was established in 2002 in the Ministry of Information, and then transferred to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in 2006, and in 2015 the management was transferred to the Ministry of Information again.