Tourism partnership seminar [Archives:2003/677/Community]

October 16 2003

Hassan Al-Zaidi
The seminar about partnership between the private sector and state in planning and development of tourism in Yemen concluded its events in Sana’a recently. The seminar focused on the future of tourism and its development and the role of the private sector in this and a number of working papers and discussions were presented in the seminar by a number of intellectuals and concerned authorities.
Of the main points in the seminar, were the obstacles and problems that face investors in the tourism sector in Yemen and what the private sector faces in this concern. Presentation of examples from the past was given and it was condemned that the state did not do anything about it. Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Mr. Ahmed Sofan confirmed the government’s interest in developing tourism, considering it as a main income for the national economy, but he also called for making this issue a public concern and not just the authorities’.

Government presents new tourist attractions in the Red Sea
Minister of Culture and Tourism Mr. Khalid al-Rowaishan commented that “there are steps taken to concluding a number of agreements with specialized multinational companies on tourist marketing and campaigning.” And that the ministry is working on enhancing the tourist administration internally and facilitating tourists visits to the country and providing secure environments for them.
Head of the Tourist development general body Mr. Mutahar Taqi emphasized that the surveys carried out by the body described 70 various potential tourist attractions. Six of which are ready for investment on the Arabian Sea coast. A documentary film which was screened in the seminar introduced Hunaith archipelago south of the Red Sea and the beautiful natural environments in the islands there where five excellent diving locations were identified.Private sector demands the government to remove obstacles against private investments.
The role of the government offices in developing tourism was discussed by Mr. Hamid Mohammed Jawhar consultant at the General Body for Tourism where he explained the potential of the private sector participating in the development and the local councils, although the private sector representatives expressed their complaints about the problems they are facing in investment and the governments helplessness in these issues.
The working paper presented by the investors and businessmen society represented in the seminar by Mr. Abdulsalam Yaseen al-Ashwari conveyed that the problems still exist and that conflict in authorities and specializations between the administrative sectors in the government and the delay in paper work subject investors to mental and financial losses, including blackmailing and undue commissions. The paper also talked about the continuous deterioration in the environment and its negative impact on tourism. And he called for establishing specialized companies for tourist services and terminating the ugly security monitoring and supervision along with the bad side effects of it such as blackmailing tourist and so on.
As for the working paper of the Chamber of Commerce at the capital secretariat presented by Mr. Ibrahim al-Qassimi it mentioned the necessity of enhancing the tourist incentives that encourage tourists and tourist investments and to stop the surprise security campaigns that tourist establishments receive without care for the tourists and the customers in the establishments. Also financing and funding should be provided and facilities to investors in this field.
Dr. Tha’ir Sha’alan of the National Bank for Commerce and Investment presented a working paper in which he focused on the 11th Sept effects on the Tourists level and that tourists should be encouraged to visit the country reviewing the difficulties which the private sector faces in this concern.

The seminar focused on the difficulties facing the private sector in investment and identifying the problems in tourism. But the question which needs to be answered is whether the government will take those concerns seriously and do something to improve the situation or is it just a seminar held for the sake of publicity without follow-up on the recommendations and suggestions yielding by it? The government will not succeed in directing the tourist attention toward diving while the rest of the tourist attractions, historical and natural are suffering from worst conditions.