Environmental tourism, but no tourists
Some historic Yemeni cities such as Old Sana’a, Shibam and Zabid, are considered important cultural sites, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The Bora’a reserve in Hodeida, the Hawf reserve in Mahra, the Al-Hoswa reserve in Aden, the Ottma reserve in Dhamar and Socotra Island occupy global positions in environmental tourism.
These nature reserves are home to unique plants, birds and animals.
The environmental tourism by land depends on hiking, taking in scenic views and diving to see fish and marine creatures in the sea.
In general, environmental tourism includes several adventure and entertainment activities that don’t harm nature.
Malik Ahmed, an environmental tourism expert in the General Authority for Environmental Protection, said environmental tourism is still at its beginning stages. Several areas in Yemen need to officially be announced as nature reserves.
“The financial income of environmental tourism is still low and most of it isn’t used to improve society, whereas the environmental deterioration is still continuing,” Ahmed said. “It is important that legal, security and financial procedures be taken to assure that investment in this field will increase.”
Ahmed said making environmental tourism effective requires intensive awareness programs meant to protect natural and cultural heritages.
Several studies by the General Authority for Environmental Protection reveal that there are different environmental “attractions” for tourists in Yemen, including trees, plants and birds that can only be found in Yemen.
The sea environment in Yemen is characterized as being rich and diverse; approximately 130 types of the coral reefs are present in the Red Sea and Aden Gulf.
Along Yemen’s Red Sea coastline, there are tropical trees and nine varieties of marine plants.
There are many unique environmental characteristics in the Socotra archipelago, located 400 kilometers to the south of the Yemeni coast.
Several studies have found that more than one third of environmental life found on these islands belong to old plants that disappeared long ago from Arab and African lands.