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Investors face several challenges to establish recreational projects
KUWAIT CITY, Oct 15: There is no doubt that the tourism and entertainment sector is one of the most important sectors that countries rely on to develop and diversify their local economy, to such an extent that it is considered a mainstay for the economies of some countries, reports Al- Qabas daily. Unfortunately, in Kuwait, the entertainment scene is almost absent for many reasons.
There is no real strategy at the moment to simulate the successful experiences of the neighboring countries that preceded us in this field and took big and important strides in developing their tourism facilities. Experts in the field of tourism and entertainment said in separate statements to Al-Qabas that the tourism sector in Kuwait suffers from a lack of recreational facilities, due to the absence of an independent entity regulating it.
This is in addition to the absence of ingredients and means that would revive this vital sector, the most important of which is opening the door for family and tourist visas abroad. The experts pointed to several challenges facing investors to establish recreational projects, for example, the scarcity of land and its unjustified high prices, in addition to the lack of manpower specialized in maintaining equipment and gaming devices and the high wages, if any, and with these high costs, the investor may not find it easy to cover operational expenses until 5 years, leave alone the profits. Sources say these obstacles must be offset by government support to build a tourism economy that enhances the domestic product.
The General Manager of Leaders Group for Consulting and Development and the former assistant undersecretary for the tourism sector, Nabila Al-Anjari, confirmed that there is no vital obstacle preventing the construction of recreational projects in Kuwait, while the real obstacle is the absence of serious government decisions and programs in this regard, especially after some projects were suspended and abandoned for a long time until neglected facilities became ruins. She explained saying, “when we talk about tourism or recreational projects, we must know that they are not just buildings, but rather a comprehensive economic system, a strategic work and a clear plan be it in the Gulf, at international or Arab level. Secondly, what is the existing organization or the structure of the tourism sector that will supervise these projects, there must be a competent authority.
Al-Anjari stressed the need for there to be a tourism law and an information system to study the economic impact, in addition to knowing the target group and segments — the youth, the family, or the children — and what is the return from it and in what way the state will benefit and what is the mechanism for receiving land from the state to establish those projects.
It is also necessary to study the social impact of tourism, environmental issues, and the development of Kuwaiti youth, training and teaching them how to manage this type of project, and that there should be colleges and universities that graduate young people for these tasks. Al-Anjari pointed out that it is very important to provide statistics, database and information on the tourist sites in Kuwait to build a deep and well-defined marketing plan, stressing that the entertainment sector is an integrated tourism umbrella for an economic, social and cultural system.
For his part, the expert and tourism activist Mubarak Abu Hadidah asked about the entity that leads the tourism and entertainment scene in Kuwait. He pointed out that the country is in a state of confusion due to the intertwining of specializations in governmental and semi-governmental agencies. He stressed that in order to achieve the advancement of the tourism sector, it is necessary first to classify the sector as an industrial economic activity in Kuwait, and to establish an independent entity of specialists and experts in the field of entertainment and tourism.
Abu Hudaidah feels the private sector is lost between the government confusion and the complex documentary cycle, explaining that if this situation continues, the result will inevitably be the flight of local and foreign investors towards investing outside the country. In turn, the Executive Vice President of Ajyal Real Estate Entertainment Company, Abdulwahab Al-Arefan, confirmed that the operational process of the entertainment projects requires the provision of a large number of workers and teams to maintain equipment, devices and games, and this is what Kuwait projects lack, in addition to another obstacle represented in the unjustified rise in land prices.
To establish projects, therefore, the investor needs big capital to start his entertainment project, and with high operational costs, this investor may not be able to reach the break-even point between profits and covering operating expenses until approximately 5 years after the establishment of the project