Creative ideas neededTourism depends on trust [Archives:2003/694/Culture]

December 15 2003

By Abdullah
For the Yemen Times

The talk about tourism in the Yemeni context calls for a lot of pain and sorrow. Why? Because our country is so rich with its geographical variety and with its potential, in front of us generation after generation. Our country has excellent human resources, great minds and skilled hands. Yet all this is being cruelly forgotten or made-forgotten in spite of its significance in the country's economy just as we are doing with oil investment as per say.
The security status had been used as a lame excuse, being blamed for all the inefficiencies by the tourism authorities. But this excuse is no longer accepted today for three main reasons. One is because of the continues efforts made by the state to ensure safety around the republic. Secondly tourism is not exclusive to foreigners, but also the nationals can be tourists. Third is that security forms one part of many other factors which tourism is related to such as politics, economy whether regional or local, in addition to the fact that crime, whatever form it comes in is a behaviour invariably existing in all societies and cultures.
We heard of a council specialized in marketing and promoting tourism yet the effectiveness of this council has not been witnessed as yet. Except for a few international exhibitions which are conducted without a feasibility study to realise the worth of participating in them.
And it is quite clear that the council is not doing its duty, which is to participate in development of tourism and to activate the tourism sector in the country. There is a short-sighted view to tourism promotion among the concerned, for they have conceived it as merely to participate in all exhibitions wherever it was and whatever this costs regardless of the real benefits from such events. A lot of hard currency could have been saved if selective choice was made giving space for free tourism around the world, and with the aid of the private sector.
Promoting tourism in this country must be launched from the inside and from the boarders which are the first sight a visitor encounters and not through brochures and pictures displayed in international exhibitions. It is an inclusive concept and lots of work connected to Yemenis activities anywhere and whatever they may be because Yemenis are the first and the most basic promoters, in addition to their relation with the state's institutions. This starts with the media and the diplomats and security and ends with the local councils, service establishment such as eateries, electrical companies and hospitals and others which carry an indirect promotional operation.
It is not shameful that we lack experience in this field, what is shameful is to stay quiet and pretend that we are great in this while achieving nothing in reality. We have to learn a lot from other's experiences in the west and east and take what suits us.
Let's look at one Arabian city for example that is Dubai, and learn how they have transformed their city to a tourism and marketing center worldwide and an international transit that can not be replaced. The tourism promotion of this city did not go to the world; instead it made the world come to it through a system of serious and continuous activities around the year such as fairs, competitions, international conferences and others.
It is of no doubt that for tourism blooming in Yemen we need all efforts to come together. But we really need to build a bridge of communication and trust across to the rest of the world. And this is the actual purpose of tourism promoting and its main project which will not be realized through dreams and media statements but with scientific work and strategic planning based on reality.
Eventually, the main point is that what we lack for promoting tourism in our country is some loyalty, and a lot of efficient utilisations of the recourses bestowed on us by the great and generous God.