Tourism and the challenge of climate change [Archives:2008/1212/Local News]

December 1 2008

Ismail Al-Ghabri
SANA'A, Nov. 27) To address the challenges to the Yemeni tourism sector, a seminar titled 'Tourism responding to the challenge of climate change' took place at the Taj Saba Hotel in Sana'a this month.

The gathering asserted that joint efforts must be made to respond adequately to several threats such as global warming and carbon dioxide emission that constitute a serious danger to life on earth.

It also aimed to strengthen cooperation between individuals and entities to meet the challenges of flood disaster on the tourism sector as well as to determine the future scope of the national strategy for tourism development in light of the effects of climate change.

The seminar discussed four work papers. The first was aimed to cope with the effects of climate changes within a sustainable tourism development strategy. The second paper evaluated the effects of natural disaster of floods on the marine environment in the governorates of Hadramout, Shabwa, Al-Mahra and Socotra Island. The third working paper reviewed the global climate change impacts on Yemen and the proposals to address them. The fourth and final paper explained the effects of floods on the historical and natural tourism in the province of Hadramout.

The symposium concluded with the following recommendations. Firstly, it recommended preparing a draft for national strategy for the sustainable development of tourism as an integral part of the national strategy for development, and developing an action plan for joint work between the Ministry of Tourism and private sector tourism companies.

Secondly, it suggested recycling components of waste into organic fertilizer. The symposium also called for an efficient method to deal with forecasted disasters and climate change through the implementation of a system to monitor and follow up on results of climate change in order to take action and preventive measures to reduce losses.

Local communities should play a positive role to safeguard tourism potential resources against unplanned and random construction on the mouths of valleys and water floods. They must work for the aim of protecting cultural property, historic monuments and archaeological sites through carrying out the necessary repairs and maintenance on a periodical basis, especially in ancient and historical cities.

Thirdly, it advised increasing the role of the media to promote awareness about climatic, environmental, tourist issues and the necessity for authorities to launch assessment studies of environmental impact prior to carrying out development projects such as the construction of roads and bridges. For example, it cited the project of the coastal road to connect the Gulf of Aden to the south and MIDI to the north, in addition to the international highway project to connect the northern and southern areas and reach the remote border point in the east of Yemen. There should be commitment to rebuilding houses and buildings struck by floods in the provinces of Hadramout, Al-Mahra and Shabwa using the region's traditional architectural style.

Further, a special and independent budget must be fixed for the Ministry of Tourism to recover disaster-stricken archaeological sites in addition to the establishment of a fund for the disaster sites for each historical city.

Other recommendations that were also presented at the seminar included the formation of task forces to carry out field surveys and assess damage in sites of interest to tourism, in addition to the cooperation of local authorities, ministries and relevant entities to unify their visions within one committee to implement a rehabilitation process for endangered sites and cities important to tourism.