Britain cancels previous travel warnings for Yemen [Archives:2008/1184/Front Page]

August 25 2008

Aqeel Al-Halali
For The Yemen Times

SANA'A, Aug. 24 – Britain's Foreign & Commonwealth Office has canceled previous a circulation warning its citizens against traveling to Yemen, further announcing that it has removed the warning from the list of countries to which travel is banned for its citizens.

The U.K. had warned its citizens this past April against “unnecessary travel” to Yemen following armed attacks targeting U.S. interests within the capital city of Sana'a.

British web site reports that Britain's Foreign & Commonwealth Office has canceled “the circulation it issued to its citizens warning them not to travel to Yemen,” noting that the circulation had sought to warn against travel to Yemen, “with the exception of only very necessary travel.”

The site also reports that the warning now is considered invalid and Britons may travel to Yemen “at present, with the exception of five Yemeni governorates, namely, Sa'ada, Marib, Al-Jawf, Shabwa and Hadramout.” Britain previously declared in 1999 that security measures in Yemen are “strong enough.”

Mark Lederman, head of security operations for Wild for Winters tour company, which organizes tours from Ethiopia and Djibouti to Yemen via the Red Sea, says, “It's encouraging that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office makes decisions reflecting what's actually going on and has decided that [Yemen] is secure and fit to be a tourist destination like other countries in today's world.”

Likewise, the U.S. State Department allowed its nonessential staff and their families to return to Sana'a this month after ordering them to leave Yemen this past March. This comes two weeks after France's Foreign Affairs Ministry warned its citizens against traveling to Yemen, a warning that Yemeni Foreign Affairs Minister Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi considered unjustified.

Yemen's Tourism Minister Nabil Al-Faqih complemented Britain's decision to cancel its previous travel warning, “particularly given that this decision comes during the tourist season in Yemen,” adding that such a move “will decrease the tense warnings that have targeted Yemen recently.”

Al-Faqih believes that the British circulation canceling its travel warnings for Yemen will “enhance Yemen's initiative to show the world a clear picture of Yemen.” He noted that security measures Yemen recently has taken “have had positive effects,” referring to the recent security deployment in all Yemeni governorates seeking to clear them of armed groups or cells targeting tourists in Yemen.

The tourism minister further appreciated the role of Yemen's Foreign Affairs Ministry in decreasing the tension of warnings against travel to Yemen, in addition to the Tourism Promotion Council, as well as travel and tourism companies, which benefit from their relationships with European nations to help show the world the real image of Yemen.