Hope in Yemen’s Tourism Renewed [Archives:2001/48/Viewpoint]

November 26 2001

A glimpse of hope and anticipation has emerged lately in the tourism sector in Yemen. Despite the tough conditions Yemen has gone through in the recent past, and despite the September 11 attacks that have caused tremendous losses to the tourism sector in general, many tourists still believe that Yemen is among the most beautiful and attractive destinations for tourism.
Last week, while I was having dinner in one of the hotels in Sana’a, I was truly delighted to see what I didn’t expect to see anytime soon. I saw around 30 foreign tourists who were having dinner at the hotel.
After inquiring about the objective of their visit, I realized that they were tourists from Germany. Those tourists came despite the negative travel advice of European governments regarding traveling to Yemen. They have challenged this warning and insisted on coming. This courageous step has indeed overwhelmed the emotions of the local staff at the travel industry in Yemen.
“There always is hope. There must be hope,” said a travel agency manager who expressed his faith in Yemen’s beauty and attractions stressing the importance of not giving up hope.
On another level, the Yemeni government is now slowly getting out of the September 11 shock and its consequences. Efforts are underway to implement a security master plan to evaluate and work on eliminating all the problems tourists face, including insecurity and armed escorts, as well other issues that disturb tourists significantly.
However, there are many more steps to be taken to bring Yemen’s image to what it used to be. The government needs to take care of the phenomenon of carrying arms in cities, and also that of military escorts who instead of protecting tourists are getting used to harassing and getting money from them.
As Yemen Times, we thank this particular group for breaking all barriers and resisting all warnings by coming to Yemen. We also want to notify the Yemeni government that it should take advantage of this trust that those tourists gave to the Yemeni security enforcing bodies and act responsibly by providing better security and ridding tourists of indecent and corrupt military escorts that tourists have complained about in the past.
There is hope in Yemen’s tourism future, but this hope should not be shattered by insecurity or instability. We should all work hard on paying back those tourists who trusted us despite all the local, regional, and global events by pushing for more progress in security and stability in Yemen.