Kuwait must prioritize tourism
‘Leaders Group’ report explores Oman, Vietnam’s ventures in this field
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.
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.
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.