A 20-year tourism masterplan being developed by Kuwait in co-ordination with the
World Tourism Organisation and United Nations Development Programme, is to
be implemented by next year and will include major developments in the country's
hotels and resorts, leisure and recreation and scientific, ecological and
technological exhibits, it was announced today.
"Kuwait stands posed at the threshold of a new era of tourism and development,"
said Mrs Nabila Al-Anjari, Assistant Under-Secretary for Tourism in Kuwait.
Highlighting comments made earlier this year by His Highness, Prime Minister,
Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah, Al-Anjari added: "Tourism is now a
strategic objective in order to diversify the national income and create new jobs
for Kuwaitis. Presently nationals spend an estimated US$3 billion on tourism
outside of the country and the government is keen to see a high proportion of this
revenue boost Kuwait's GDP.
"The government of Kuwait is now launching an extensive tourism development
plan with the number one priority being to develop and improve domestic tourism."
Statistical studies have shown that a large percentage of Kuwaitis, 79%, leave
Kuwait to vacation abroad, while reporting that approximately the same percentage would prefer to spend their prime vacation time in Kuwait if enough
domestic tourism facilities were available.
As a second priority, Kuwait is positioning itself as an inbound GCC tourist
destination with a strong emphasis on business traveller meetings and exhibits,
and as an excellent family holiday destination for GCC residents.
In early 2004, Kuwait took ground-breaking steps to promote visitor travel and
business investment in the country, which will in turn promote diversification of
the domestic economy, providing another source of foreign capital and creating
more employment for Kuwait's citizens.
From March 2004, visitors from North America, most of Western Europe,
South-East Asia, Australia and New Zealand will obtain entry visas upon arrival to
Kuwait. In the previous procedure, all visitors were required to obtain a visa weeks
prior to any travel to the country.
Mr. Rasheed Al-Tabtabaee, Under-Secretary, Kuwait Ministry of Commerce &
Industry, spoke about the Foreign Investment Law, another significant step
towards the promotion of foreign investment and capital entering the Kuwait
economy. This new regulation, implemented last October allows foreign companies to operate in Kuwait, and includes lucrative incentives for foreign
investment, such as 100% foreign ownership within the majority of sectors,
In addition to changes in immigration and investment regulations, booming
development plans for business travellers include private sector investments in 20
new hotel projects and an increase in the number of meeting incentive travel
These developments will also impact Kuwait's position as a family destination, in
addition to plans for a leisure park in Salmiya, an entertainment project in
Jahra, and a recreation park in Sabahiyah. Hotel developments are planned for a range of
travellers' needs, from 5-star luxury to budget-minded accommodation. Long-term
investment plans for Kuwait's tourism industry include the development of the
offshore islands, open areas, and current commercial locations.
"Generally a world-class infrastructure is in place," says Al-Anjari. "However, more
work is underway to refine the current conditions and encourage tremendous
growth throughout the hospitality and tourism industry."
At present, the government is involved in the pre-qualification of 115 companies
interested in developing Failaka Island, home to Kuwait's most significant
archaeological site. This development will include hotels, shops, residential
complexes, a media centre and restaurants with an estimated cost of US$ 3.3
billion. Studies are also underway for projects on the largest offshore island,
Bubiyan Island, which is graced with white sand beaches and coral reefs.
A golf course is being constructed at the 6th ring motorway with plans to open in
early 2005. The golf club project with its sport, entertainment and commercial
facilities will cost an estimated US$ 5 million to complete.
"With the implementation and ongoing improvements of the new visa scheme and
the addition of relaxed foreign investment regulations, allowing 100% owned
foreign investment for the first time, Kuwait's tourism industry is being given a
green light for growth," concluded Al-Anjari.