KUWAIT: Officials inaugurate the Horeca Kuwait 2020 exhibition. – Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By Faten Omar

KUWAIT: Under the patronage of Minister of Finance and Acting Minister of State for Economic Affairs Mariam Al-Aqeel, the Horeca Kuwait 2020 exhibition opened yesterday at the Kuwait International Fairground in Mishref with the participation of a number of specialized companies in hospitality, catering and hotel equipment, including many international brands interested in the Kuwaiti and Gulf markets. The ninth edition of Horeca Kuwait is organized by the Leaders Group Company for Consulting and Development in collaboration with the Hospitality Services Company.

During the opening ceremony, Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development Dr Khaled Mahdi said that the Horeca exhibition has been successful for nine years and contributes to the growth of a number of the most vital sectors for people’s lives and their food security, health, welfare and prosperity.

He stressed that the exhibition is in line with the development plan inspired by the vision of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, which focuses on mobilizing all efforts to transform Kuwait into a leading regional financial, commercial and cultural hub by 2035. “The Kuwait Vision 2035 also stresses the necessity of creating an investment attracting environment, encouraging the private sector to lead development, providing it with the suitable business environment, diversifying the production base and developing national tourism. However, all these require sufficient flourishing of activities,” he added.

Mahdi noted that tourism is one of the non-oil revenue-creating sectors, and is bound to improve with time according to the projections of the World Travel and Tourism Council, which predicts a 4.8 percent annual growth until 2028. He explained that this rate will be enhanced with the transformation of the country into a financial and commercial hub, and with the Silk Road project in cooperation with China out of the strategic partnership in the framework of the Belt and Road initiative.

“The development we believe in and pursue aims to eventually improve the standard of living and welfare of our people. We are well aware that the flourishing of the economy, the entertainment and hospitality services and other ambitions in ‘New Kuwait’ will reflect positively on the improvement of the quality of life for all citizens,” Mahdi said. In conclusion, he added that Kuwait is rich in the potential of its strong-willed youth who comprise more than 70 percent of the population.

Nabila Al Anjari, Head of Horeca Kuwait’s organizing committee and General Manager of Leaders Group for Consulting and Development Company, said in her speech, “Today, we celebrate achieving record and comprehensive success indicators in terms of the number and categories of sponsors, participants, contestants in the cooking competitions and online applications to visit the exhibition. There has been a marked increase in outside interest, not just through the participation of international brands and products, but also through the participation for the first time of several foreign business councils.”

“Horeca Kuwait has made a qualitative and quantitative leap and defied many obstacles,” she indicated. “This leap is more valuable because it was achieved at a time when tourism in Kuwait, unlike all countries in the region and the world, was not receiving sufficient attention.”

“As a result, the contribution of tourism in Kuwait, which affects hospitality in general, remains limited at 2.8 percent in 2018 and under KD 1 billion, while the percentage is much higher in other GCC countries,” she added. “UAE topped the global rate with tourism and travel contributing over 12 percent of GDP, while Saudi Arabia has gone a long way towards implementing its strategy of raising tourism contribution from three to 10 percent in 10 years with the creation of 1.5 million jobs mostly for the youth.

Meanwhile, this percentage is up 10 percent in Bahrain and Qatar. Likewise, Oman is implementing its strategy of increasing the contribution of tourism and travel from under six percent in 2017 to nine percent in the next few years.” “Statistics and figures confirm that we are witnessing global and regional trends from which Kuwait cannot remain isolated,” she proclaimed.

“They also reflect that tourism, travel, hospitality and entertainment in the more advanced, growing and rich countries provide major contribution to economic, social and cultural development.” She also urged Kuwait to keep up with the growth and development of the tourism and travel industry in the region as studies expect the direct contribution of tourism in the GCC region to increase from $58 million in 2018 to $120 million in 2027 according.