Kuwait must pri­or­i­tize tourism

‘Lead­ers Group’ re­port ex­plores Oman, Viet­nam’s ven­tures in this field

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

KUWAIT: Lead­ers Group for Con­sult­ing and De­vel­op­ment (LGCD), the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the In­ter­na­tional Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion in Kuwait is­sued its monthly re­port that deals with the tourism sec­tor in Kuwait and sheds light on the most no­table de­vel­op­ments in the tourism in­dus­try.

“Eigh­teen months elapsed since the gov­ern­ment is­sued its ‘Fi­nan­cial and Eco­nomic Doc­u­ment,’ which is some­thing that we have to look into deeply es­pe­cially given the pro­posed date to ex­e­cute the nec­es­sary pro­ce­dural pro­grams to achieve the re­form goals,” said Nabila Al-An­jari, LGCD Gen­eral Man­ager.

Re­form paths in sev­eral re­gional coun­tries show re­form goals that are sim­i­lar to those set by Kuwait. How­ever, the dif­fer­ences are in the per­for­mance speed, as well as the con­form­ity be­tween pro­ce­dures, poli­cies, goals and courage in im­ple­ment­ing them on sched­ule. It is no­table that the doc­u­ment ig­nored the im­por­tance of sus­tain­able tourism as a ma­jor gen­er­a­tor for de­vel­op­ment, as well as eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial re­form.

Sus­tain­able tourism

This year, the world is marking the ‘In­ter­na­tional Year of Sus­tain­able Tourism.’ Many coun­tries are mak­ing clear suc­cesses in this field, in­clud­ing Oman, which will host the sec­ond in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence of tourism and culture on De­cem­ber 11 and 12. The event will be or­ga­nized by the In­ter­na­tional Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion and UNESCO on the eve of a ma­jor of­fi­cial cel­e­bra­tion in Geneva to con­clude the in­ter­na­tional oc­ca­sion.

If it was not for some ac­tiv­i­ties and meet­ings held by some pri­vate sec­tor in­sti­tu­tions, it could be said that state departments to­tally ig­nored the fo­cus on the goals of ‘In­ter­na­tional Year of Sus­tain­able Tourism’ with re­gards to in­creas­ing aware­ness at the im­por­tance of sus­tain­able tourism in or­der to de­velop and fo­cus on our tourism ca­pa­bil­i­ties. This would help drive tourism de­vel­op­ment into new lev­els, en­hance in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, and en­cour­age mak­ing pol­icy changes and the con­sumer be­hav­ior to­wards a more sus­tain­able tourism sec­tor. Those is­sues go in line with the spirit and goals of the Kuwait re­form doc­u­ment.

This year’s ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude the call for en­hanc­ing sus­tain­able tourism as a tool for de­vel­op­ment while fo­cus­ing on its role as an en­gine for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and in­creas­ing aware­ness for in­ter­ested par­ties, in­clud­ing tourists them­selves, in the ef­fects of tourism on the so­ci­ety and en­vi­ron­ment. The lack of aware­ness is only one as­pect of re­duc­ing the sta­tus of tourism in the re­form doc­u­ment, con­trary to what takes place in most coun­tries, in­clud­ing the West which used tourism as a ve­hi­cle to get out of the lat­est world re­ces­sion. The same was done by most GCC coun­tries which be­came an ex­am­ple of quick and unique de­vel­op­ment due to tourism, with spe­cial em­pha­sis on Oman’s new dis­tinc­tion on the oc­ca­sion of sus­tain­able tourism.


Oman achieved tan­gi­ble de­vel­op­ment in all as­pects of life and gained the re­spect of many ob­servers and for­eign tourists who fre­quent the Sul­tanate with in­creased in­ter­est in tourism. Fol­low­ing oil’s con­tri­bu­tion to fi­nan- cial re­sources, which made it a rich coun­try, and un­der the ex­pec­ta­tion of oil de­ple­tion in 50 years, Oman pets on tourism as an al­ter­na­tive, with the goal be­ing to in­crease the rates of na­tional in­come from tourism from two per­cent to five per­cent of the an­nual na­tional prod­uct un­til the year 2020 (around 12 mil­lion tourists). Ef­fec­tively, this plan will help make tourism the sec­ond source of na­tional in­come.

Tourism in this oil coun­try has be­come one of the most no­table as­pects of eco­nomic, so­cial and fi­nan­cial re­form, and a sec­tor that meets the in­creased de­mand for job op­por­tu­ni­ties, par­tic­u­larly by youth (38 per­cent) and rais­ing wages in var­i­ous sec­tors, as more than 72 per­cent of Oma­nis in the pri­vate sec­tor were re­ceiv­ing $520 in 2010, while the per­cent­age of those who could find seats at the higher ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties are in­creas­ing ev­ery year.

Oman’s has been suc­cess­ful in fo­cus­ing on tourism as a cur­rent and fu­ture choice of re­form. This suc­cess is be­com­ing more ev­i­dent in the form in which the coun­try’s tourism identity has been iden­ti­fied, which fo­cuses on tourism that pre­serves cul­tural her­itage, tra­di­tion and na­tional identity. It is worth men­tion­ing that Oman en­joys a beau­ti­ful nature in var­i­ous prov­inces, be­sides 300 kilo­me­ters of coastal lines and the lat­est touris­tic projects is its man­made gulf worth 2.9 bil­lion euros.


Viet­nam rep­re­sents an­other in­ter­est­ing case as far as eco­nomic re­struc­tur­ing is con­cerned, as well as its re­la­tion with tourism es­pe­cially that it is gov­erned by a so­cial­ist and agri­cul­tural regime, yet it in­tro­duced many re­forms in all as­pects and sec­tors. Viet­nam had goals that go in agree­ment with the goals in the eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial re­form doc­u­ment in Kuwait. How­ever, it took a dis­tin­guished ap­proach in ap­ply­ing th­ese goals and was able to reap the re­sults quickly de­spite its con­ser­va­tive nature to­wards con­tem­po­rary eco­nomic poli­cies and open­ness since the early days of the com­mu­nist rev­o­lu­tion there 30 years ago.

It was able to do so be­cause it did not hes­i­tate to take mea­sures and di­rect projects to re­vive tourism within its eco­nomic re­form, and made of­fers to­wards for­eign in­vestors, es­pe­cially South Kore­ans. As a re­sult of th­ese pro­ce­dures and poli­cies, they are in har­mony with eco­nomic re­struc­tur­ing. The coun­try wit­nessed a six per­cent growth while the world was wit­ness­ing a large eco­nomic rescis­sion.

Viet­namese au­thor­i­ties launched an ap­peal at the end of July, 2017 to for­eign in­vestors to in­vest in a new batch of touris­tic projects within its plan for eco­nomic re­form. Sa Mo prov­ince which is lo­cated in the far south is set to in­vest in two touris­tic projects val­ued at $527 mil­lion among 50 in­vest­ment projects from 2017 to 2020, out of which there are 10 projects for for­eign­ers in­clud­ing de­vel­op­ing sea ports, en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­lar en­ergy and fine tech­no­log­i­cal in­dus­tries.

Viet­nam signed an agree­ment with South Korea in July 2017 to ac­ti­vate co­op­er­a­tion in tourism. It also agreed with Hun­gary to sup­port co­op­er­a­tion in tourism, and the touris­tic agenda be­came full of ac­tiv­i­ties, the lat­est of which was the con­struc­tion of the first spe­cial mu­seum for pic­tures in Viet­nam, the singing fes­ti­val for the tal­ented in southern Viet­nam and the open­ing of the ‘culture and tourism days’ in Laos.

Vi­tal link

Anal­y­sis of economies of sev­eral Arab and for­eign coun­tries, both con­ser­va­tive and lib­eral, con­firms the vi­tal link be­tween the fi­nan­cial and eco­nomic re­form and tourism. Based on many stud­ies, sev­eral ob­jec­tive warn­ings were is­sued based on re­cent ex­pe­ri­ences of fi­nan­cial and eco­nomic re­forms. Mean­while, the In­ter­na­tional Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion points out the im­por­tance of tourism and trav­el­ing as a so­cial and eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity that grew steadily and has reached un­prece­dented lev­els in­ter­na­tion­ally. It also points out how tourism in many coun­tries tops eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment pri­or­i­ties and con­trib­utes to re­dis­tribut­ing wealth, re­duc­ing poverty and cre­at­ing job op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Kuwait is not think­ing about plac­ing tourism as its top pri­or­ity, but it is in­evitable that it de­cides the place of tourism on its strate­gic pri­or­i­ties’ list and to change the ran­dom gov­ern­ment ad­dress in this re­gard to pre­pare im­ple­men­ta­tion plans very soon. The only clear in­di­ca­tion about tourism in the re­form doc­u­ment was in the “leg­isla­tive and in­sti­tu­tional re­form pro­grams and sup­port­ing mea­sures,” as they in­cluded the is­suance and amend­ment of nearly 13 laws in or­der to ap­prove and ad­just leg­is­la­tions in sup­port of re­form, in­clud­ing the pass­ing of the tourism law. How­ever, this law was re­leased within the medium range pro­grams (2018/2019 2020/2021), which means that it should be is­sued within the next three years, oth­er­wise the re­form pro­grams will be lag­ging be­hind the mer­its they were ap­proved for.


KUWAIT: Kuwait could ben­e­fit from the ex­am­ples set by other coun­tries which fo­cused on tourism as a vi­able source of na­tional in­come.

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