By Ben Garcia

KUWAIT: Despite the opening of the airport to incoming residents from August 1, many are opting to stay in Kuwait during their scheduled annual vacations. Jason Banawa, a restaurant manager from Batangas City in the Philippines, said he planned to go on vacation last year, but he couldn’t because of the coronavirus pandemic. This year too, a vacation is still a dream.

“I had two months of accumulated leave. I was very much willing to go to the Philippines, but I had these ‘what-ifs’ on my mind – what if Kuwait suddenly closes the airport again? What if I contract the Delta variant of the virus while on leave? The most ridiculous thing is the sky-high prices of air tickets. So I chose to stay at home in Kuwait with my baby,” Banawa said.

Banawa’s company told him to take his annual leave now since work is slow during summertime. “I will have prolonged bonding with my baby girl and wife, since I am also not comfortable going outside. My plan is to do some household chores, probably clean the house daily and cook for my wife, since she is working,” he said.

“I wanted to be with my parents and friends and enjoy the summer with my family back home. But because of the prevailing situation, I don’t want to get stuck abroad without work. We need work even more now since the pandemic is hurting us all,” Banawa added. His vacation started last week and he will return to work in the middle of September. “It means long hours of sleep and online games. I will also search for online opportunities and will probably try my luck at several games,” he said.

Online selling
Speaking about online opportunities, Gritel Trinidad’s vacation has been spent well due to online selling. She started her vacation on July 1 and will return to work in August. “Since the pandemic began, we cannot enjoy time outside Kuwait, so I thought of doing something productive to earn money. After a week I had got bored, so I contacted several of my friends who are into the resale business.

I asked them about the business and they willingly shared their secrets. I am now selling online and even after I return to work in August, I will continue with this newfound online opportunity. It gave me not just an extra income, but connection with customers. I have become friends with many of them,” Trinidad said.

Sandeep’s vacation was also put on hold this year due to travel restrictions and uncertainty whether he will be allowed to re-enter Kuwait. “If I go to India, I doubt whether I can come back, so better to cancel plans to be with my family in Rajasthan,” said Sandeep. “My vacation started on July 1, and I’m expected to rejoin the company on August 2,” he said.

Sandeep was able to take advantage of his annual leave in Feb 2020. “It was during that time when everything turned upside down. Thank God I was able to enter Kuwait, otherwise I would’ve been stuck in India. I pity my child as he wants me to with him, but this cannot happen this year,” he said. During Sandeep’s month-long staycation, he stayed with friends, visited malls and spends most of his time talking to his family in India.

Hassan, also from India, was set to get married last June after getting engaged in 2019. But the wedding was postponed due to the pandemic. “I promised my fiancée in 2019 to marry her in 2020, but since the airport was closed, we agreed to delay the wedding,” he said. From August 1, Kuwait International Airport will begin admitting passengers of all nationalities, provided they have valid residencies and are fully vaccinated with jabs approved by Kuwait.