Cultural tourism is a healthy alternative [Archives:2005/876/Culture]

September 12 2005

The phenomenon of the so-called “tourist marriage” has frightened people and made them suspicious of tourism. Before even reaping the desired fruits of tourism, socially objectionable incidents occur ringing the bell of danger. Recently, we have heard about the tourist marriage, cases of which were detected in some areas. Some poor families were reported to have succumbed to the temptation of gulf tourists' money and married off their young daughters. This is not the whole story. The more painful part of its is that after a couple of weeks when the lascivious victimizers have gratified their lust, they leave for good and what remains behind usually are pregnant teenagers with broken hearts and shattered lives.

Another phenomenon attributed to the so-called pleasure tourism -with the bad connotation of the word pleasure- is the proliferation of white slavery houses were immortality prevails. A report recently released by the Woman Forum for Research and Studies showed that such houses and networks are present in the capital city and , ironically, are licensed by the government in order to encourage tourism. They are working under the cover of dance clubs.

Poverty is of course mostly related to crime and misconduct. However, sound cultural policies can resolve this problem. Yemen doesn't lack in tourist potentials. It only needs wise tourist plans and implementation thereof. If we try to enumerate the vast historic and natural wealth of this country, much time and effort would be required. However, this is an attempt to shed light on the way we have to take in order to develop a healthy tourism that yields profits to the state's coffers and helps popularize Yemen's merits abroad.

Geographically speaking, Yemen is located in the center of the earth, thus, representing a point linking the east with the west, the north with the south. It is easily accessible by air, land and sea. The coastline runs for about 2500 kms on the Red Sea and Arab Sea. Concerning its topography, Yemen has areas with different heights and natures. It has the sea-level zones and highlands as elevated as Nabi Shu'aib Mount (3760 meters) which is the highest peak in the Arab Peninsula. Yemen encompasses mountain chains, profound valleys, agricultural terraces , fertile plains, golden deserts, etc. Such a geographical stretch grows some 2810 plant species besides rare indigenous plants, aromatic and medicinal. The climate of Yemen is therefore different from area to area throughout the 555000 square kms.

If we turn our attention to the heritage of the antique Yemeni kingdoms and states, a glimpse of it would make us realize the enormous treasure we possess. In Yemen did many civilizations prospered in different regions such as pre-Islamic Himyarite, Ma'inite, Hadhrami and post-Islamic Zaidi, Rasouli, Sulaihi, Tahiri, etc. Almost every spot of Yemen bears witness to its past glory and gives off the smell of history.

Puzzling situation:

Statistics of Jordanian tourism reveal a good deal of revenue gained over the first half of 2005 estimated at over half a billion USD despite the limited inherent resources. Yemen's tourism, however, faces problems in spite of the abundantly available potentials. We neither got the benefits of tourism nor immunized our society against its evils. We need to eliminate the “pleasure tourism” which affects our society and promote cultural tourism which underscores the aesthetic value of nature and the archeological and historical value of Yemeni heritage. This way, we would get a two-fold advantage: boosting tourism and promoting Yemen's image abroad.

It is the magic wand:

Thus, what we call “cultural tourism” seems to be an excellent way to popularize Yemen, properly entertain its foreign guests and help resolve economic difficulties. Some experts suggest that such a kind of tourism is internationally popular namely in countries such as Italy and France. It usually attracts the over-forty age category, people who tour to look into history and be familiar with exotic civilizations. This entails that the concerned authorities should run intensive campaigns in foreign markets to promote Yemen's tourism.

Another relevant factor is local tourism in which locals make tours of their country. Taking care of this type of tourism is significant to highlight the key role of tourism, activate tourist movement and provide an alternative to traveling abroad, thus saving badly needed hard currency. It should include various programs tailored for different categories (students, officers, etc.) with packages of facilitation such as low transportation and accommodation fees. Local councils are encouraged to contribute to this tourism in order to create self-finance resources.

Awareness has to be disseminated among people on tourism and more skilled personnel should be trained. Poverty will gradually diminish especially in tourist-hosting areas. After all, places that cater for immorality and obscenity should be shut down and rules be reinforced. parents must also understand that they are supposed to protect their daughters and not let them fail into the paws of lustful hunters.