Inbound tourism crippled in Yemen
“Travel and tourism agencies almost shut down due to the fragile inbound tourism,” Abdulrahman Al-Yarimi, deputy manager of Bazara'a Travel and Tourism Agency, said.
He said the crisis Yemen passed through in 2011 sparked the deteriorated security situation in the country, resulting in grave impacts on tourism. These events sowed worry among people who choose to abstain from visiting certain places in Yemen.
Internal tourism slightly increases during Eid and other holidays. However, the insecurity witnessed in the country, and the neglect of the state toward tourist attractions, has aided the deterioration of inbound tourism, according to Al-Yarimi.
“Some Yemenis prefer outbound tourism to inbound because local tourist destinations are not cared for.”
Yahiya Al-Yarimi, a private sector employee, said he doesn’t like to make internal trips, indicating the tourist attractions in Yemen are wonderful yet uncared for.
Yahiya Al-Yarimi said the security situation is volatile.
“How can I go on an internal trip while sheikhs and thugs practice banditry and set up unofficial checkpoints using the power of weapons. The state security is absent.”
Sadam Ismael, a taxi driver, doesn’t approve of internal tourism because of “the deteriorated security situation that made tourism in Yemen very stagnant, though Yemen is bestowed with unique, historical, natural destinations.”
Ismael said he lived in Syria for many years and visited many countries. He noticed the difference between the importance of tourism in Yemen and abroad.
“In Yemen, tourism is uncared for, and most of the tourist attractions are teeming with litter.”
In return, there is a multitude of people wishing to get acquainted with Yemen and all it’s sites. However, they prefer to stay home or to travel elsewhere because such destinations—with their security risks—don’t please them or make them happy.
Mohammed Al-Salahi, a Sana'a resident, hopes to visit Mareb and Hadramaut because he prefers to travel within Yemen as opposed to outside of Yemen.
“Internal tourism enables Yemenis to know more about the history and the civilization of their country.”
He said inbound tourism has largely worsened due to the neglect of the state toward this sector.
Aseel Al-Ariqi, a housewife in Sana'a, said she went on trips within the country in which she visited Dar Al-Hajjr and the green province of Ibb. She said she was extremely happy about that and hopes to visit other places in Yemen such as Aden, Seiyon and Socotra. However, her financial circumstances make such trips difficult to realize.
“Nowadays, I can barely cover my daily expenses. It is difficult to carry out a tourism trip.”
While tourism loses its momentum, the Ministry of Tourism endeavors to enliven the tourism sector and to attract national and international tourists through implementing various programs.
Ahmed Al-Bail, general manager of programs at the Ministry of Tourism, said the ministry launched a number of carnivals in many popular tourist destinations such Sana'a's Summer Carnival, Damar’s Asa'ad Al-Kamil Carnival, Al-Makalla’s Al-Baldah Carnival and Aden’s Cisterns Carnival. These carnivals aim to attract people.
The Ministry of Tourism established the Tourists Protection Body in reaction to the abductions and security events Yemen experienced last year, according to Al-Bail, who said this body selects the best soldiers in the Central Security Forces.
“They were distributed to many military checkpoints to protect and facilitate the movement of tourists.”
However, the body has not been operative, he said, because “the security offices at the helm have not executed this plan, though there was a ministerial decree with regard to this connection.”
Al-Bail said tourist locations require huge support and investment, especially at a time when investors fear the implementation of several projects.
He said the ministry strives to promote tourism in the country via its tourism supplements in some Yemeni newspapers, in addition to brochures.
“By contrast, local T.V. channels have not contributed to supporting the Tourism Ministry and letting people know about the tourist destinations in the country. They want money in order to promote tourism.”
For her part, Sabreen Al-Sa'adi, an employee of an electronics shop in Sana'a, said she knows nothing about tourist destinations in Yemen except for Aden and Hodeida. She said the media makes no effort to attract people to Yemen's tourist attractions.
“Media outlets present nothing but abductions and explosions in the news, rendering us to cancel any trip we plan to take. We prefer to remain home.”