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Kuwait still out of GCC competition for unknown transparent reasons

High cost for delay in touristic projects for over 10 years

Nabila Al-Anjari

KUWAIT: Leaders Group for Consulting and Development, the representative of the World Tourism Organization in Kuwait, issued its monthly report on recent development in the tourism sector in Kuwait. Leaders Group General Manager, Mrs Nabila M Al-Anjari, pointed towards some variables in touristic and recreational projects and services amongst GCC states, which was clear in the official data and news announced by some brotherly states in view of tension between them.

Meanwhile, some analysis was made about contradiction and similarities between projects and policies (both economical and developmental) adapted in those countries call for concern as this will have a negative impact on the performance of regional mega projects and investments as a whole. The report added that because of such speculations, Leaders Group studies the section tackling the most important traits and characteristics of Kuwait tourism and hospitality industry and whether it’s safe from the negative impacts of any similarity or contradiction in GCC projects or economic and touristic plans.

Contrarily, the report emphasizes that Kuwait was still lagging behind compared to GCC sister states in terms of taking care of tourism and stressed that this calls for immediate action. The report sums up the political and executive measures needed to undo this noting that special governmental political decisions were urgently needed. The report also noted that projects and decisions of touristic nature had been delayed for over a decade for unknown, unjustified and unclear reasons at a time when Kuwait could have beaten others to similar GCC projects.

The report added that Kuwait is still the least amongst GCC states in spending on touristic planning and projects and is, still out of regional and GCC competition (check table number 1 and previous leaders group reports). Unfortunately, the distance scale compared to that of maximum performance of the recently published economic indicators confirms this as Kuwait is still, more or less, at grade 60 while other GCC states had higher grades such as UAE at 80.

Special categories and privileges
To conduct the comparison with other GCC states, Leaders Group divided the projects and measures related to tourism, into projects that already exist, those under construction or those to be executed, into three categories:

1- Unfinished project though they had been planned 15 years ago such as the Failaka and Boubyan islands development projects and the projects related to the national tourism development plan.

2- Projects that Kuwait has not yet considered despite the huge opportunities they provide such as tourism, regional marine sports or transit tourism.

3- Projects which will provide Kuwait with enough touristic marketing and coordination.

Cost of delay, reward of achievement
The current phase requires that decision-makers and those really interest in tourism, diversifying income sources and financial and economic reform immediately opt to the means of making the best use of the above projects. The sooner those projects are executed, operated and marketed, the more revenues they will make for Kuwait while delay will only increase the losses making all investments and efforts go in vain. It also leads to outdating and consuming idea even before they appear. Potential losses also involve the state’s reputation and the credibility of its promises, which as wasteful if not more.
Achievement or delay involve executing projects, setting an independent touristic organizational structure to coordinate with the private sector in addition to setting constant marketing and development plans and strategies. The same applies for the hotels sector, which is the most outstanding edifice in hospitality industry in Kuwait so far. It needs national assistant as Kuwait has the lowest hotel occupancy rates amongst GCC states though it increased from 7326 rooms in 2015 to 9352 in 2017.

Table 2 shows new projects’ details and nature and they all appear far from similarity or duplication compared to those in other GCC states because they primarily address national needs. They all contribute to GCC integration in terms of tourism, recreation and heritage, which can be clearly detected through artistic, cultural and recreational centers. The same applies for substantial sports projects such as the Olympic Village and Car Race Tracks. As far as projects such as the railway are concerned, they serve so many local touristic and transport goals but still are the result of decisions on linking GCC states together.

One cannot say that the Failaka and other islands development projects contradict with similar GCC ones because the ideas started 15 years ago including qualifying bidders. It was mismanagement and hesitation in decision-making that led to all this depressing delay. Nonetheless, it still represents a local urge to meet the increasing demand on marine resorts and chalets, not to mention the island’s national, archeological and historic value.

All the above proves that Kuwait’s touristic performance calls for exceptional care in the form of executing related projects in a more systematic and organized manner or improving its performance to diversify sources of income, economic activities and encourage the private sector as well as other elements mentioned in the economic and financial reform chart that ought to have included the national strategic tourism plan set in 2004 and updated in 2013 that seems to have joined a long list of delayed, postponed or sluggishly executed touristic projects and plans.

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