Yemenis, Wake Up to The Wonders of India! [Archives:1999/26/Business & Economy]

June 28 1999

India is actually a country made up of many different cultures and different religions. This mixture makes it an attractive tourist destination for many people.
Mr. Gour Kanjilal is the regional Director of the government of India’s Dubai-based Tourist office. He is responsible for promoting tourism to India in 14 countries in the gulf and Middle East and 12 countries in Africa. As tourism has become one of the most important industries in the modern age, he is trying to send as many people from these countries to India as he can.
The relationship between India and Yemen is very strong, and we witness further development every day.
Mr. Kanjilal recently paid a short visit to Yemen to tell people in Yemen about the touristic attraction of India, calling people in Yemen to visit India and enjoy its interests. Mohammed Bin Sallam and Mohammed Hatem AL-Qadhi met him and filed the following interview with him. Excerpts:
Q: What are the goals of your visit to Yemen?
A: Our main purpose is to invite our Yemeni national friends and promote them to visit India because if they are thinking of travelling, India would offer them very good opportunities for spending holidays. We would also like to inform them that India and Yemen have a very old cultural relationship; we are also proud of our ancient cultural heritage, like many peoples here. I think both countries know each other very well through the people who come for studies and medical treatment. Many people have the matrimonial connection; they are married to Indian people, or they have commercial ties with India. There are lots of things in common between us. So this is why we are here to promote and invite people to visit India.
Q: Do you think that Yemeni visitors are beneficial to India? Do you think this number can be increased?
A: Yes, already last year we had around 10,000 Yemeni nationals who came to India. These are only the Yemeni nationals, in addition to the Yemenis of Indian origin. The total number of visitors of both Yemenis and NRI’s is around 16,000 tourists. This thing is very good for us. I think this number could easily be increased, because India is big and can not be seen in one visit; even if you went their 20 times, you could not see India totally. So once you go to India you’d like to visit it again and again. Twenty-thirty thousand visitors would be a very easy thing to get from here.
Q: What are the facilities that are provided to the Yemeni Visitors?
A: India is such a vast country what ever visitors would like to have they can get. We have also various facilities such as the upper market, and the lower budget market where everything could be offered. That is why we are here; to see what people may need so that we could request our tour operators and our governments to provide them with these facilities. Other kind of facilities that are available are the quota for the low budget Yemeni youths; we have got a youth hostel, and we also have a budget accommodation called the Yatri Nivash. They cost around US $20-25 per day, then you have the one and two star hotels within US $ 30-50. Those who want to go for higher budgets they can get hotel rooms from US $ 50-100. If they want to travel by train we have a rail pass which can valid from one day up to 150 days; you can purchase a rail pass and move around India. If people want to go to the mountains, there are various mountains. We also have a large variety of food.
Q: What means would attract more Yemeni tourists to India?
A: This is what we want to know from the people. We want to know what they want, like in other parts Arab world they like to go and visit the Himalayas, other people would go for a medical or herbal treatment, business, or studying. Once we know what people want, we can prepare every thing.
Q: Will you visit some other Yemeni cities for the same purpose ?
A: No, for now we will get enough to do in Sanaa. But we have future plans to come and visit other cities such as Aden and other parts of the country. My visit actually is to allow me to see the areas which I will be in charge of.
Q: Do you think that this festival you are holding at Taj Sheba is enough to expose India and attract the Yemeni people, or will you have to launch a media campaign in Yemen?
A: We would like to release our advertisements in the media and we have already placed some of our advertisements. We would like to put it in your paper also, so that people can learn more about India. We have a CD-Rom that possesses all of the information about India. This CD-Rom will be given to all the tour operators. These were our first steps to explore this market and by having interaction, and an educational tour, and by visiting media members and organizing an Indian evening we will try to build up our presence here. Our job here is to familiarize people with our vast culture.
Q: What are your impressions of the old city of Sanaa?
A: During my visit to the gulf countries I thought that Arabs were lazy and did not work, but when I visited the old city of Sanaa, I found it a very lively culture. I saw people working here and there. They are also proud of their culture. It is very much similar to my country, where there are lots of activities in the market. People are busy in their work, I was also very much impressed by the rock palace, which date backs 1000 years.
Q: The relationship between Yemen and India is deeply rooted in history, so have you noticed any kind common features between Indians and Yemenis?
A: There isn’t a vast difference between our peoples. They are very helpful, hospitable and many people here look like Indians. If they walk in India, people would not know at all that they are Yemenis. Even the Yemeni culture is similar to ours such as the mixed family, food, the jewelry; every thing is in common. I went to the jewelry shop and found that we have similar jewelry designs in India.