Environmental Tourism in Yemen [Archives:2000/16/Health]

April 17 2000

Imad Al-Saqqaf,
Taiz Bureau Chief

Yemen has one of the most deep-rooted ancient civilizations in the world. Our ancestors have founded a highly developed civilization whose remains are still standing out. These landmarks could be seen in various monuments spread in the country like skyscrapers, historical cities, castle and dams.
Today, tourism relies on many factors of tourists’ attraction and our country has many alluring features. Apart from eye-catching sites and attractive cultural and historical heritage, our country has an incredible landscape. This is embodied by the greenery prevalent in valleys, plains and mountain terraces along with its charming coasts, numerous islands and mild weather. Another feature of attraction is the Yemeni entrenched traditions and habits such as our generous hospitality.
Experts say that tourism is “a no-smoke emitting industry ” and the availability of certain natural features has helped expand tourism industry whether at the local level ‘internal tourism’ or at the foreign level ‘international tourism’. What is meant exactly by environmental tourism is traveling and visiting natural sites for the purpose of getting pleasure from watching nature and ancient or modern spots.
Environmental tourism could produce economic and social benefits for the local inhabitants if only studies and researches were carried out for the purpose of protecting nature and developing it without causing damage of any kind.
In the late 80s, large numbers of tourists developed an interest in the kind of tourism that associates them directly with nature and people’s culture. Therefore, many became attracted to watching rare species of birds, organizing educational trips, climbing mountains, studying geological features of rocks and practicing sports like scuba diving.
This type of tourism relies on, as described by Mr. Abdul-Kawi Salim Al-Areeki (Deputy Director of the Tourism Bureau of Taiz), traveling to suburban districts that are still intact and not spoiled by cities’ modernization. Until recently, this kind of tourism was not popular, but it has spread and this is attributed to many factors such as:
– International concern about protecting nature and preserving people’s cultural heritage.
– Developing tourism appropriately and preserving nature’s resources for the coming generations.
– Developing a balanced relationship between preserving resources and tourist development.
– Adoption of eco-friendly projects by several international organizations.
Therefore, we notice that natural landscape constitutes an important pillar of environmental tourism that, in turn, could render benefits for local inhabitants and the government. Some of these benefits are:
– Preserving the environment along with its cultural and natural features.
– Engaging the local society to tourism activities and thereby enabling them to socially and economically benefit from them. It could also create new job opportunities.
– Raising environmental and educational awareness.
– Developing local products and economic resources and earning foreign currency.
In order to enable tourism obtain its anticipated revenues, several facilities should be created:
1. Establishing a suitable administration and an appropriate planning for designing and monitoring tourism services and facilities.
2. Providing all necessary guarantees for the protection of tourist natural sites.
3. Abiding by the administrative goals of each district separately, bearing in mind its accommodation capacity.
4. Developing appropriate and well-designed facilities taking into account the accommodation capacity of the area.
5. Developing cooperation between public and private sectors and the local society as well.
6. Conducting a field survey and a full account of all tourist and historical sites, then, classifying them according to their natural category “mountains, forests, lakes, beaches, waterfalls, large trees, flowers, scarce plants, caves ÉÉetc.”
7. Creating guidance charts in the areas of each of the above classifications stating rules such as not destroying the beauty of the site or leaving trash on it.
8. Encouraging local societies and inhabitants to engage in different cultural activities involving presenting our tradition, local costumes and artifacts to visitors and training them to be tourist guides in their districts.