Tourism in YemenMarketing boost needed [Archives:2005/831/Business & Economy]

April 7 2005

By Abeer Yahia Aleryani
For The Yemen Times

It is all about marketing these days. To persuade people into buying the same electronic device they already have, but with some extra decorative features, you must engage marketing in the operation. To encourage people to read your book you have to convince them that you are selling them knowledge. To attract them into visiting your country you can relay on this powerful tool.

Marketing doesn't mean cheating. Some people may associate the two words. However, marketing is about making your product known to others by advertisements and promotions. Otherwise, you will be just like the guy who kept winking at the girl in the dark! No matter how good your product is, nobody will know about it without marketing. We may call this era as the marketing era as consumers have grown aware and selective with so many options open to them.

Tourism is an industry that needs to be marketed. The tourism sector in our country has to catch up with this concept. Tourism can be an important source of income for our country and for the businesses within it. Tourism has become a major industry in many countries.

According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), revenues from tourism accounted for more than eight percent of the world merchandise exports and one third of the world trade in services in 1995. The percentage of tourism to developing countries has increased constantly over the past two decades. In 1995, the “third world” received about 170 million international tourist arrivals, which is 30 percent of the world's total. The revenue generated from tourism to the third world in that year was $US113 million. Tourism to the third world overwhelmingly originates from developed countries. This has been termed “North-South-tourism” and is the second largest source of income for developing countries. A case in point is the statistic that in 1991 more than 20 percent of the population of Germany had travel experience to a third world country.

Almost all Yemenis are aware of the tourism potential of our country. Most of us often discuss this issue and wonder why this sector isn't improved. It is generally agreed that if tourism in Yemen is used to its full potential, it can work miracles for the economy.

In my opinion it is about marketing, or a lack of it. Commercials air on satellite channels persuading people into visiting countries in the Far East. Along with the new tourist attractions, some Arab countries have been known as famous tourism sites for decades. All these countries, and their official tourism bodies, have acknowledged the power of mass media and other marketing means in attracting tourism to their countries.

With a single advertisement campaign on TV you invade the world. You enter to hundreds of thousands of homes all over the world. Think of the possibilities of having people attracted to our diverse geographical sites and weather, our Islamic and pre-Islamic monument and heritage. How many of them will decide to give it a try, attracted by the beautiful scenes they may see on TV through a well prepared advertisement campaign?

Yemen doesn't look as destroyed and undeveloped as the western media portrays it. On the contrary, it is a beautiful country offering a diverse climate and culture. It is tempting to many as there are a variety of attractions to suit various types of tourists. For those interested in history, it is the land of the Queen of Sheba with a rich history of many kingdoms and eras. For those interested in sea activities, we have an environmentally healthy coastline 2000 km in length. For those interested in seclusion, Yemen has many islands that are in themselves very attractive.

It is important to enhance the image of Yemen to attract tourists, whatever their interest. Although our image has been tarnished by Western media, we must show Yemen as it is. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism and to the Ministry of Media and Mass Communication should prepare a well planned advertisement campaign showing Yemen in its true colors. This advertisement campaign should target possible tourists from Arab and International states. An advertisement campaign on Arab TV and/or International channels will open the world's eyes to what we can offer them.