Travel Agents Address Kidnappings Calamity [Archives:1999/01/Reportage]

January 4 1999

The Hilltown Hotel, in coordination with the Association of Yemeni Tourism and Travel Agencies (AYTTA), organized a meeting to discuss the condition of the prevailing tourism market in Yemen and to express their condolences over the sad incident that led to the death of some British and Australian tourists.
The AYTTA sent two letters of condolence to the US and UK Embassies in Sanaa. A third letter was sent to the Yemeni government regarding the future of tourism in Yemen, blaming the government of not being capable of eliminating the phenomenon of kidnapping. It also requested the government to take strict and strong measures in this regard. They have also blamed the Ministry of Tourism, accusing it of taking huge sums of money in the name of promoting tourism, and when a problem arises the ministry does not come to their rescue. They have also asked to reduce the charges and exempt them from other duties as the last incident had negative financial effects on these agencies.
Some agencies are not directly effected, whereas others have 30% cancellation. In addition to this, many hotel reservations were canceled.
Many countries have advised their nationals to cancel their trips to Yemen such as Germany who has reduced the number of accredited Yemeni agencies to two (Universal and YATA).
Yemen Times met Mr. Muaeen Ali Al-Iryani, Financial Secretary of AYTTA
Q: What have proposed to the government?
A: We have met with representatives of the government and the Ministry of Interior and the people concerned with security. Our demands were and still are to use capital punishment as deterrent to all would-be kidnappers. Abductions occur everywhere and almost in every city in the world. But in Yemen the problem takes bigger dimensions because in most cases kidnappers are set free and the hand of law doesn’t reach them. This is unacceptable in Yemen and outside Yemen and that is why the government appears weak to the outside world.
Q: How do you see the future of tourism in this country?
A: If this problem is handled strictly, this kind of action will not have any effect on tourism in Yemen. But if officials fail in handling it, it will be the end of tourism in Yemen for many years to come.
Q: What is the role of AYTTA in this regard?
A: In the recent problem the association played the role of a middleman in passing on the news as fast as possible, gathering support and warning others of the danger of the situation. This might appear as an unimportant role but that’s the best we could do. Our financial capabilities are limited and authorities try to limit our involvement. For them, any action by us means crossing the red line and that is not acceptable by them
By Bassam Al-Saqqaf
Yemen Times.