“Yemen is a viable destination for international tourism. But a good promotion campaign is necessary.” [Archives:1998/15/Business & Economy]

April 13 1998

Yemen participated during 6-11 March in the ITB international exhibition on tourism in Berlin and in the BIT exhibition in Milan, Italy, during 25 March – 1 April. A number of Yemeni tourist companies, tour operators, travel agents, airlines representatives, and promoters of tourism took part in the two exhibitions.
Yemen Times Aden Bureau Chief, Ridhwan Al-Saqqaf, met Mr. John Vouillamoz, General Manager of Aden Movenpick Hotel, and talked about the prospects of tourism in Yemen.
Q: In your opinion, how effective is it to use international fairs to promote tourism?
A: According to my experience, the participation in international tourism fairs is an excellent way to promote a country; a destination as well as tourism program. Most important travel agents, airlines and tourism-related organizations attend these fairs.
During the last decade, many countries realized the benefits generated by tourism.
The investments to create attractive tourist destinations, and the efforts that have been made to promote markets have made the competition global and fierce. Countries that neglect to invest in marketing or that do not participate in international fairs are generally relegated to second rank, and lose their shares in the world market.
Q: How do you evaluate the effort made to promote Yemen at the BIT Milan and the ITB Berlin?
A: I do believe that the efforts put together by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Public Authority for Tourism, Yemenia and the main hotels and tour operators in Yemen (13 in Milan and 16 in Berlin) were good, though some points would have to be considered for the next fairs. These include the following:
a) Better preparation and pre-fair marketing;
b) Active participation and involvement of tourist destinations such as Ibb, Hodeida, Hadhramaut and others;
c) The creation of cultural events parallel to the international fairs.
Yemen has a lot of interesting aspects that attract tourists. There is the history and ancient sites for those who love the past. There are the mountains, valleys and other terrain for hiking. There are the shores and islands for swimming, diving and snorkeling. There are the deserts for adventure travellers. There are the traditional customs and folklore for those who enjoy different social values. There are many attractions on which we can capitalize,
Q: How did your hotel promote Yemen?
A: Being one of the main participants under the Yemeni flag, we made many contacts prior to the fairs. Most interested were the Italians, Germans and travel agents from other European countries. Active promotion of the cultural aspects of Yemen were made. We discussed tourist programs and itineraries, emphasizing Aden which had been previously neglected. Folklore events and beach activities were highlighted.
Q: What are the difficulties that you confront?
A: After one and a half years in Yemen, and based on my past experiences in other countries, I must say that so far I haven’t encountered any major problems that I could not overcome. I have experienced good relations with officials at Aden Governorate, the Tourism Authorities and other government bodies. Even then, I would like to raise two points, as follows:
a) The difficulties in adapting to frequent changes and amendments to the laws;
b) The difficulties in meeting the needs of an increasing number of visitors to Aden (business and leisure guests).
Q: What do you advise to promote Yemen as a tourist destination?
A: In my opinion, different points must be considered in order to develop the tourism sector.
a) Security and safety of tourists is a first priority. Security problems should be addressed immediately, in order to avoid bad media coverage.
b) Infrastructure for tourists should be developed, and product quality control should be implemented for all tourist-related service companies. This has to do with hotels, restaurants, resorts, museums, etc.
c) International flight connections either with Yemenia or other airlines to Sanaa and Aden should be increased.
d) Finally, as Yemen is considered a cultural destination, further effort should be made to promote it as such. Resort development should be reinforced in order to offer combined programs and increase the length of stay of tourists.