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Large part of amount said directed to local spending
KUWAIT CITY, March 14: More than a year has passed since the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent travel restrictions and disruption of overseas tourism plans for many citizens. Amid these restrictions imposed around the world and the reluctance to travel, a question that comes to one’s mind is — Where did the Kuwaitis spend the billions they normally spend on traveling?, reports Al-Qabas daily. According to economic sources, the amount spent by Kuwaitis on foreign travel, either for tourism, treatment or study purposes, before the pandemic was estimated at about $16 billion annually. With the spread of the pandemic and the disruption of travel movement, a large part of this amount was directed to local spending or kept aside as savings. Local sectors and activities have recovered because of the money that was pumped into the local economy.
Retail sales, specifically luxury goods stores in the country, had a large share of this money, as many citizens preferred to spend their money on buying. This was evident when the malls and commercial markets opened their doors at the beginning of the second phase of the plan for return to normal life, as long queues were in front of such stores. Also, online retail sales turned out to be one among the biggest winners during the time of the pandemic, because they witnessed unprecedented sales with an increase of more than 30 percent.
The sectors of luxury goods, electronics and furniture in the country witnessed a great turnout by citizens. Since many of the stores in these sectors were physically closed and travel movement was suspended, they showed more seriousness in offering their products and services via the Internet with the aim of reaching the largest possible number of customers. Regarding whether the local tourism sector received a share of the amount that Kuwaitis normally spend for travel purposes, the sources indicated that the absence of real tourism projects and the scarcity of recreational facilities have made this sector unattractive to many citizens, especially with the closure of many facilities, such as the entertainment city, parks, the ice-skating rink, and others, in addition to the absence of new tourism ideas in Kuwait compared to some countries in the region.
The sources stressed that, despite the significant increase in the value of gold in 2020, many women, especially the elderly, continue to buy gold as well as diamond sets. They added, “The real estate sector did not receive a share of the amount, as the value of real estate in the country is high, and the money that the citizens saved during the crisis would not be enough to buy a house, chalet or farm.
The sector that flourished and benefited from the citizens’ money is a sector related to leasing and not buying, as the country witnessed a boom in the renting of chalets, farms, and livestock pens. The car sector and its financing received a large share too, as some citizens preferred to buy new cars, and others worked on paying the remaining installments of their cars”.