Reform and DevelopmentYemen: the promise of tourism [Archives:2004/772/Opinion]

September 13 2004

By Prof. Dr. Abdulaziz Altarib
For the Yemen Times

Tourism is one of the heavy weapons in developing the Yemeni economy and society. Planning in this field has been good in the last two years, here, we have to salute the President, who took the necessary steps. But we need more promotion and an office in every Yemeni embassy abroad.
Income from tourism could be more than Yemen's revenue from oil exports or greater than remittances of Yemenis working abroad via official or legal routes.
In Yemen we have the culture, the climate and the history. Most of the world's population is in developing countries, and external tourism is a luxury they cannot afford, but it is true that countries of the first and second world include one and half billion, and they are the hidden market for Yemeni tourism.
Beside this, even in developing countries (3rd world) there are a certain percentage with sufficient wealth to participate in the international tourism movement, and they could be attracted to Yemen.
If planning in the field of tourism in Yemen has reaped the fruits of doubling the amount of tourists expenditure in the past four years, then in turn, doubling this increased number of tourists and their income has to be a national aim during the coming year. By 2010, our aim should be to reach the level of at least 1 million tourists, with an approximate income of 1 billion dollars.
Despite certain gains, there are still many weak points in tourist institutions, at the top of the list are aviation service, conference tourism, adequate youth hostels and hotels for students or those of limited income – who make up the majority of tourists even in countries of the first and second world.
The most obvious weak point is the Yemenia – Yemen Airways. During 2003, I traveled on its lines not less than ten times, and every time, I swore not to travel on it again! However, because of an innate desire to support our national airways, and because of urgent need, I traveled with Yemenia again. On all of those flights, the plane was delayed, running between an hour and several hours late. In addition, I witnessed many shameful scenes in Cairo, Amman, Paris and London, by Yemenia staff towards the unlucky Yemenis who chose, or were forced, to travel on this Airline.
The government would do well by inviting others to think of establishing a private airline. The government also has to consider the condition of this national company, and take pity on the promise of tourism in Yemen.