KUWAIT: An Environment Public Authority team is pictured during an inspection tour. – KUNA

KUWAIT: Chalets, beaches and islands in Kuwait have become an ideal tourist destination and gateway for people to be entertained locally due to COVID-19 lockdowns and fears of its variants. Kuwait witnessed a significant increase in rental chalet prices since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic due to government precautionary measures to combat the virus and difficulty in traveling, which pushed the people to rent chalets for a safe outlet.

On the other hand, the beaches and islands witnessed negative practices, which encouraged voluntary government agencies to carry out more inspection and awareness campaigns to ensure the safety of the marine environment and to keep it pollution-free. Director of the Public Relations and Media Department at the Environment Public Authority (EPA), Sheikha Al-Ibrahim, said that the authority was continuing its environmental campaigns on the Kuwaiti islands since the beginning of June and will continue until the end of August.

She stressed that tight measures were implemented during the Eid Al-Adha holiday due to the high demand. A number of environmental violations were issued against people who did not adhere to environmental laws in Kubbar, Qaruh and Umm Al-Maradim islands during a joint campaign named ‘have fun but keep the islands clean’ with cooperation with the Kuwait Municipality, she noted.

In addition, domestic tourism thrived especially as the islands, beaches, and chalets have become a target for tourism. She stated that the cooperation between the two parties extended to placing 167 advertisements in the streets in all governorates of Kuwait, calling for an end to negative practices that harm the environment, as well as awareness messages on social media. Since 2014 when the marine law was implemented, total marine environmental violations amounted to 942 violations, 673 in Kuwait Bay, 23 trespassing on beaches, 186 ships that dumped their waste in the sea and so on, Ibrahim explained.

Walid Al-Fadhel, head of the Kuwait Dive Team (KDT) which affiliated with the Environmental Volunteer Foundation (EVF), said meanwhile that the team works almost daily to remove waste from the coasts and retrieve sunken ships, boats, and neglected fishing nets and plastic which is difficult to decompose and would cause pollution.

Fadhel said that a lot of waste is dumped despite awareness and dedicated containers, noting that during this year the team has removed 500 tons of waste, boats, and nets so far. He praised the cooperation of Kuwait Municipality, the EPA, the Environment Police, the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources and the Kuwait Coastguard to monitor violators and tighten control.

Fatima Al-Gharib, who is responsible for managing Bu Saleh chalets, said in a similar statement that chalets present an opportunity for family and friends to gather and break from the routine which caused pressures due to an increase of chalet demand. The rise in rents during the Eid period was normal as it represents the peak time, although COVID-19 restrictions led to an increase in prices, she noted. – KUNA