Yemen’s Experience in [Archives:1998/07/Business & Economy]
By: Khaled Jomaan Salem
The importance of tourism for the Yemeni national economy and the process of development cannot be over emphasized. Worldwide statistics indicate the rapid expansion of this sector and show that in 1996, for instance, about 592 million tourists spent over $423 billion, compared to 567 million tourists spending $372 billion in 1995. The following statistics give some idea as to the expansion of this important sector in Yemen.
Is Yemen a Tourist Country? The cultural, social, and historical Yemeni heritage as well as its unique and widely varied nature and topography act collectively to make the country one huge tourist attraction. The climate is mainly mild throughout the year, to the extent of making the four seasons indistinguishable in some regions.
Tourism Activities Between ’90 & ’96 With the unification of the country in 1990, a unified ministry for tourism was established to replace the former tourism authorities in the previous two parts of Yemen. Culture and tourism were later merged with the formation of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, however, the General Tourism Cooperation has kept its very wide authorities to be able to implement the government’s policy for developing the tourism sector in Yemen.
The 1996 statistics indicate that the number of Yemeni people employed by the tourism industry is around 7,000; while, only 314 foreigners are working in this sector. Despite the number of job opportunities being relatively low, the prospects are quite encouraging for those responsible for tourism training. In order to create more jobs in this sector, the following criteria will have to observed: a- providing excellent tourist and catering services that local and foreign tourists will find satisfactory; b- the existence of a skilled local workforce; and c- the existence of an experienced foreign workforce that will help improve the tourism industry in Yemen.
In addition to being a time of exceptional tourist activity, the period from 1990 to 1996 was also characterized by the following: 1- an active cooperation with several international organizations (UNDP, ILO, EU, WTO, etc.) which funded and supervised a number of projects to develop human resources in the hotel and tourism sector; 2- clear goals towards developing human resources in the hotel and tourism industry; and 3- a tangible development in tourist training activities conducted by the Tourism Training Directorate at the Tourism Corporation.
Major projects implemented during 1990-1996 * The Project to Train and Develop Hotel and Catering Staff (1st Stage), which was financed by the ILO in 1990, had the following objectives: – re-training hotel and restaurant staff in Yemen; and – establishing a catering and tourism institute in Aden to be a nucleus to academically train Yemeni youths who wish to work in the tourism industry. This project made the following achievements: – training 15 persons to become teachers at the Tourist and Catering Institute; and – admitting the first batch of 70 student into the Tourist and Catering Institute to train as receptionists, hotel keepers, waiters, and cooks.
* The Project to Train and Develop Hotel and Catering Staff (2nd Stage), This project is funded by the Yemeni government and the ILO, and is implemented by the World Tourism Organization (WTO). Execution started on 15th of September, 1995. It has the following major goals: – improving and developing the educational level at the institute and expanding its capacity to admit more students; – training Yemeni staff in hotels and other tourist establishments; and – training and improving the efficiency of the staff at the General Tourism Corporation and its branches in the governorates.
* Completing the Strategic Tourist Plan Financed and implemented by the European Union in 1992, the plan has succeeded in achieving the following: – specifying the volume of growth in the hotel sector by 1,500 beds during the five-year plan (1993-1997); and – specifying a realistic criterion for the needs of the local workforce.
Tourist Activity in Yemen A- International Tourism The 1990-1996 statistics indicate that the international tourism movement has made an increase in the number of arrivals in Yemen, see the table below. The main countries from which tourists come are Italy, Germany, France, and Britain. The tourism season in Yemen is usually the busiest during February, March, August, October, November, and December.
B- Internal Tourism Statistics indicate an increase in the numbers of Yemeni tourists and foreigners living in Yemen. International tourism is mainly centered in the governorates of Sanaa, Aden, Taiz, Hadhramaut, Hodeida, Mahweet, Ibb, Hajja, Saada, and Mareb.
Tourism Revenue The revenue from tourism activity during the period from 1990 to 1996 had reached about $278 million (YR 33.36 billion)
Tourist Establishments Tourist establishments include hotels, travel agencies, tourist restaurants, cafes, pensions, parks, clubs, geusthouses, etc. The total hotel capacity in Yemen has increased from 7793 beds in 1990 to 15005 beds in 1996.