International Tourism Day: Elements of Tourism in Yemen [Archives:1997/39/Business & Economy]

September 29 1997

xSeptember 27th is designated as International tourism Day by the World Tourism Organization (WTO). Yemen as a country where tourism represents as yet not a fully tapped resource is a member of WTO. The essential elements of tourism in Yemen are many and varied:
Geography a- Coastal plains b- Western highlands c- Middle heights and cliffs d- Empty quarter and desert areas e- Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea islands
Infrastructure There is a 69,000-km network of paved and dirt roads connecting the major town and cities. The five-year plan (’96-2000) has allocated 25% of the proposed governmental investments for road building. There are also plans to renovate and enlarge the existing 5 international airports and the 12 local ones.
Weather Yemen enjoys a sunny and temperate climate all year round.
Accommodation According to 1996 statistics, there are 229 hotels comprising 6977 rooms or 15005 beds. Yemeni, Arab, and foreign investments are being channeled into building more hotels and tourists resorts.
Tourists Establishments Up to 1996, the number of licensed tourists establishments reached 1313 which include hotels, restaurants, cafés, clubs, rest houses, and travel agents.
Culture The culture and traditions of the Yemeni society are quite unique. The archeological sites of Maeen, Saba’a, Ausan, and Himyar represent a big tourist attraction. Other attractions include folkloric songs and dance, traditional handicrafts, food, exotic architecture, etc.
Types of Tourism About 50% of the tourists come to Yemen from European countries – Germany, Italy, France, Britain, etc. There are several types of tourism that can attract various kinds of tourists:
Marine Tourism Yemeni coasts extend for over 2,000 km along the Red and Arabian seas. Fishing, snorkeling, deep-sea diving, water skiing, or just simple sea trips are but a few of the activities that can be enjoyed by tourists along the beautiful beaches of Yemen.
Mountain Tourism Yemen boasts many as yet unexplored mountains and caves with unique flora and fauna.
Health Tourism There are more than 40 natural springs of sulfur and other mineral waters with healing qualities.
Desert Tourism Adventure lovers would be especially attracted to explore the ancient desert routes such as the frankincense and myrrh roads.
The year 1997 is regarded by WTO as the national year of tourism in Yemen. The WTO’s 15th term was opened in Yemen earlier this year. Yemen has participated in many meetings and conferences on tourism, both regionally and internationally. Several agreements concerning the development of the tourism sector have also been signed by Yemen. During 1996, hotels in Yemen had received 389,362 residents. Also in the same year, around 73,000 foreign tourists visited the country bringing an income of about $73 million. The five-year development plan (’96-2000) has specified several points to expand the sector of tourism in Yemen: * Encouraging and increasing private investment projects in the tourism sector. * The government will undertake several infrastructure projects. * Preserving and protecting archeological and historical sites and buildings. * Implementing traditional handicraft projects. * Developing the General Tourism Authority and improving its performance in encouraging tourism and private investments in this sector.
The investment Law number 22 of 1991 grants generous tax exemptions, over several years, to tourism projects. Many incentives are also provided by this law for buying plots of lands, leasing property, renting shops, and other activities the can expand the tourism sector. About 18% of licensed projects and 30% of total investments are in the tourism sector. These projects are expected to create 1682 permanent new jobs. To further encourage tourism, there must be an increase in well-trained staff, more protection for the environment, regular maintenance of the infrastructure, expansion of the water and electricity grids, and improving public hygiene and waste and sewerage disposal systems.