Tourism poised for rapid growth

Kuwait City

THE Ministry of Tourism has been busy steering a committee to complete the Phase II of the Tourism Master Plan.

A member of the Women’s Affairs Committee and Women’s Cultural Social Society in Kuwait and assistant under-secretary for tourism affairs, Nabila Al Anjiri, has also acted as project director on the Kuwait Tourism Master Plan, which was formulated under the supervision of the World Tourism Organisation and the United Nations Development Programme.
She has been highlighting that the future for Arab business women is extremely promising and they could play a key role in the public and private sectors including the tourism industry. Speaking after her appointment as a corporate ambassador for the ground-breaking ‘Leaders in Dubai’ event, which was held in Dubai last November, Al Anjiri said family support is vital to Arab women leading successful professional lives.
“We expect manpower to increase by five per cent in the hotel, travel and tourism sectors,” she explained. “Job opportunities for Kuwaitis in these sectors are also expected to increase by 12.5 times by 2020, compared to 2001… It is interesting to note that our women represent 70 per cent of university graduates, about two-thirds of government employees and hold 11 per cent of key positions.”
Al Anjiri added: “Studies conducted conclude that developing tourism in Kuwait must be in line with our culture and values. In the last 15 years we have seen a rise in family tourism, with many countries, including Spain, Greece and Indonesia, becoming excellent destinations for the entire family. These specific host countries value their heritage, with many family-run establishments catering for foreign visitors and with locals managing tourist homes that increase the traditional household role of women.”
Promoting tourism in Kuwait has never been easier and, after the country’s liberation in 1991 and the recent end of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, Al Anjiri feels her job has assumed greater importance. “Kuwait’s tourist plan is mainly driven by the country’s aim to diversify its national income sources, creating promising employment opportunities for national manpower, especially for male and female university and polytechnic graduates, as well as utilising tourism to promote the interaction of cultures and reflecting a positive image of the country, as one with an open, tolerant society,” she said.  “We expect a rapid growth in tourism, with a strategic 20-year plan in place to ensure that Kuwait becomes a desirable tourist destination.”
Al Anjiri and her team aim to approve simple procedures, where 34 other countries will be beneficiaries. These include entry visas directly from the airport and other inlets without a sponsor; focusing on tourism with the required government and private sector institutions, setting up a state tourism strategic vision and promoting existing tourism attractions in the country as well as encouraging investment in the tourism sector to develop new tourist enterprises, which include 20 hotels and 17 projects involving resorts and theme parks and properties in Failaka, the state’s second largest island.
Government studies show Kuwaitis, as well as other GCC citizens, constitute a source of tourists who are the world’s biggest spenders, with Kuwaitis travelling a total of 1.3 million trips abroad a year. WTO said the average Gulf citizen per-capita spending during foreign trips amounts to $1,814 per trip, exceeding the European individual per-capita spending, which amounts to $836 per trip.
“Despite the relatively small number of Gulf tourists who travel abroad, their annual spending exceeds $27 billion, representing a loss to the national economy,” said Nabila. “This is especially the case with Kuwait, which lacks counter tourism from abroad except for measures taken in the last few months. However, changes are afoot now and, with our strategic plan already in place, I envision Kuwait as being a major family tourist destination in the near future.”