Numbers of tourists not yet reached anticipated levels:Agony for Yemen’s tourism sector continues [Archives:2004/727/Culture]

April 8 2004

Yasser Mohammed Al-Mayyasi
Tourism in Yemen constitutes 1% total world tourism to the Middle East. National Yemeni revenue from tourism is 1% of the gross revenue of the Middle East from tourism. Annual average growth for period (1992-2001) equals 11%. Internal tourism achieved a growth rate average of 7%. Total tourism revenues as a proportion of total exports including oil is 3.15%. Tourism projects constitute 13% of permitted projects. 25,000 workers are employed in 2327 tourist establishments, of which 14% are travel agencies, 40% are restaurants and 46% parks and housing places. These numbers are modest, which reflects the situation of tourism in Yemen, despite great potential in Yemen.
The deterioration of tourism is reflected on all economic sides. Many seminars and conferences have been held to discuss the situation of tourism, but the agony of tourism in Yemen continues, as was clearly shown during the deliberations of the Al-Shoura Council last month.
Answers to many lingering questions were found during the seminar organized by the Tourism and Environment Committee of the Al-Shoura Council. The committee's report was based on field visits to Aden, Abyan, Lahuj, Taiz, Ibb and Al-Mahweet, potential tourism regions, and confirmed the reduced flow of tourists to Aden as a result of economic stagnation, due to which the operational capacity of hotel and tourism corporations is at a minimum level. Some investors in tourism complain of the accumulation debts and interest on funds obtained for development in the form of bank loans, both locally and from abroad. The report urged an increase in the capacity of Aden Airport, which still encounters technical and administrative restrictions and has not yet established the air cargo village. The report noticed negligence and apathy towards historic sites and castle. Consequently it is necessary to impose a plan to be laid down by Aden Tourism Office to take these cultural and historic sites into consideration in the promotion of tourism in the city in particular and Yemen in general.
The Committee found out that in spite of historic and tourist sites and beautiful shores in Abyan Governorate, there are no hotels or easy roads. In Lahj Governorate, the tourism committee cited good efforts and visions for future tourism mindful of the artistic and cultural inheritance of the region, but the committee revealed of the water resources and other problems facing the governorate.
In Taiz, the committee blamed the difficulties to re-asphalt roads, to complete the installation of roads' lights and to rehabilitate Taiz International Airport for hindering efforts to attract tourist to the city. The committee confirmed the importance to continue the renovation of Al-Qahera Castle, which would definitely attract tourists upon completion.
In Ibb governorate, in spite of the efforts to promote tourism through holding regular tourists carnivals at historic Hab Castle in Ba'dan and in Jeblah and Dhufar and other interesting places, Ibb city like many other Yemeni cities does not have primary services, including sanitation services.
Finally in Al-Mahweet governorate, regardless of being one of the most beautiful cities, with lavish and mountain terrace landscapes, there are hardly any hotels or tourism related services in the city.
The Al-Shoura Council also examined the “Tourism: present and future” report, which confirmed that five-star hotels in Yemen are generally rare. There are only six throughout the Republic, two each in Sana'a, and Aden, one in Taiz and the sixth at Al-Mukalla, Hadramout, with total capacity of 1000 beds. There are 14 four-star hotels, half of which are in Sana'a and the other half in Aden, and 55 three-star hotels distributed throughout the country.