Artists and others denounce tourist kidnappings [Archives:2006/909/Front Page]

January 5 2006

SANA'A Jan. 2 – Hundreds of artists and cultural elite took to capital streets denouncing the country's frequent tourist kidnappings and saying such conduct will impact Yemen's national economy and future.

The demonstration began at the Cultural Center to the Cabinet where protestors were received by Prime Minister Abdulqader Bajammal who affirmed that the kidnapping phenomenon is exceptional and should be dealt with seriously.

The government will pass a kidnapping law against those abducting tourists and foreign visitors, since their acts contravene the law and the constitution and harm Yemen's reputation, Bajammal said. He emphasized that such acts constitute grave crimes and the government should quickly react and impose penalties on kidnappers.

The Prime Minister criticized delaying the draft amendment to the arms ban, which provoked curiosity from a large portion of the public who say the ruling party should be held accountable for tourist kidnappings since it dominates Parliament and can put the ban into effect.

Several protestors affirmed that foreign tourist kidnapping in Yemen is a complicated problem, negatively impacting the tourism sector in particular and the national economy in general.

Losses to the economic sector are significant, in that Yemen's tourism sector is one of the most important in contributing revenue to the state's general budget. Preliminary estimates indicate Yemen's tourism sector has lost approximately 25 percent of tourism-related revenue due to tourist kidnappings.

Dr. Abdulbar, head of the Yemeni Writers Union, affirmed that tourism in Yemen is not merely an economic activity; rather it reflects the cultural and civilized heritage of Yemenis. He added that the spread of such a phenomenon will harm Yemen's history and reputation.

Two kidnappings occurred last month: the German family in Shabwa province and the Italian hostages in Mareb who remain in captivity.

For its part, the Yemeni Society for Tourism and Travel Agencies released a statement deploring tourist kidnappings, particularly the German Chrobog family. “Society is of the view that the crime was committed by irresponsible people whose acts and behaviors contradict human values and religious principles,” it stated.

Additionally, Yemenia Airways strongly denounced kidnapping European tourists over time, saying it harms Yemen's reputation and glorious history. It condemned the extraneous phenomenon as damaging the country's tourist activities, particularly as Yemenia has expended great effort in promoting tourism and investment in Yemen. Yemenia updated its fleet by purchasing new planes of different models.

Due to the heavy losses and the phenomenon's impact on the national economy, Yemenia demanded concerned authorities put an end to kidnappings in the “Land of Faith and Wisdom.”