Stressing on attracting expatriates and new markets,Strategic plan to revive life cycle to tourist development [Archives:2003/670/Business & Economy]

September 22 2003

Mahyoub Al-Kamaly
The Yemeni government has set up a strategic plan for reviving the cycle of life to tourist development aimed at treating the state of stagnation prevalent on conditions of the tourist sector by establishment of the necessary structure to attract tourists, especially the Yemeni expatriates in South-East Asia whose number is estimated at more than 5.6 million people.
Prime Minister Abdul-Qader Bajammal had defined, during the 2nd National Conference for Tourism held in Sana'a on 16-17 September 2003, features of the plan in activating the inter-tourism and the best investment of the Yemeni islands and attracting sons of the Yemeni communities from abroad to visit the tourist resorts in Yemen and promotion for the tourist landmarks in the foreign countries and markets exporting tourists.
The strategic plan also aims at helping Yemen restore its status in international market for tourism. Figure mention that security imbalance has affected the influx of tourist movement coming from Europe and that it has reached the lowest of its level in the year 2002. While on the other hand problems of hotel establishments has aggravated as trade and tourist recession included them. Studies presented to the tourist conference attributed the reasons of the drop in number of tourists to a group of factors, the most important of which are kidnapping of tourists, the events of 11 September in the United States, the incident of blasting the French oil tanker Limburg at the coasts of Hadramout, in addition to weakness of services at the tourist establishments.
Studies have interpreted the current tourist impediments and problems with the environmental problem represented by the lacking of public cleanliness, destruction of natural plants and marine life, advancement of modern building in the historical cities, sabotage and theft against historical ruins and deterioration of folkloric arts and traditional industries, as well as the weakness of the essential tourist infrastructure and backwardness of some facilities offered to tourists.
Research working papers offered to the conference have considered that the capacity power of the hotel establishments are still limited, not exceeding 9 thousand beds mostly concentrated in the capital where there are six 5-star hotels, fourteen 4-star hotels and fifty-five 3-star hotels. The studies ascribed the causes of investment hindrances in the tourist sector institutions to the lack of a map determining sites of hotel establishments, in addition to weakness of judiciary, electricity and water services and imposition of taxes on hotel services. The prime minister addressed the conferees that the visit of foreign tourists to Yemen had been costing Yemen highly as measured by the volume of government spending on security bodies for providing security for them. The contrary opinion was expressed by the studies that confirmed that intensive security company generated a negative impression about the security situation in the country. Therefore the new plan contains the protection of tourists during their touring of cities and the establishment of an operation room for tourist police, providing protection for all tourist establishments and confirmed the necessity of cooperation of the private sector in supporting tourist police and offering facilities for it.
The plan pointed out the targeted markets with the old ones in Europe and the new markets in Japan, Malaysia, and the Arab Gulf. The activities there aim at the realization of a balanced and stable tourism sector. The conference has set up mechanisms for the marketing of tourist product of Yemen the most important of which the conducting comprehensive promotional campaigns at the markets exporting tourism, producing a tourist film, modernization of Yemen's tourist site on the internet, announcement of a tender for publishing a new tourist guide and the tourist map. Among other mechanisms is the participation in the International Travel Fair in Japan, London Tourist Fair and other fairs with the aim of entering in new markets.
The conference participants have also proposed activation of the role of diplomatic missions in the tourist promotion and creating an administration at the ministry of foreign affairs specialized in undertaking the task of studying and analyzing warnings issued by foreign countries to their nationals against visiting Yemen and to deal with them with a national responsibility and also the diplomatic follow-up for rectifying the mistaken ideas on the stable situation of security in Yemen. The specialists have expected that in case of implementing the new strategy and success of the marketing plan, visitors to Yemen in the medium-term could be between 200 to 300 thousand tourists at a rate of four days for each tourist spending 150 dollars each day. This could entail gaining huge revenues of hard currency supporting the national economy and that can be reflected on supporting the balance of payments of the foreign currency and raising the level of monetary reserve as well as pushing forward the movement of foreign and local investments for creating a large-scale commercial movement in the tourist area.