Yemen Gamely Tries to Attract Tourists

Good for Yemen! They even successfully attracted thousands more tourists in 2009 than the year before. Story here.

DUBAI (Reuters) – Yemen lured in a few thousand more tourists in 2009 despite al Qaeda attacks but fears travel warnings will scare holidaymakers away, a senior tourist official said on Tuesday.

Deputy Minister for Tourism Development Omar Babelgheith told Reuters that the number of tourists visiting Yemen, home to centuries-old tower houses in Sanaa and the famed Socotra island archipelago, rose by up to 6,000 in 2009 to 1.1 million.

Babelgheith said reports of danger to holidaymakers, including the risk of kidnapping by disgruntled tribes or Islamist militants in the fractious country, were grossly exaggerated and Western travel warnings were posing a challenge.

They’ve taken pains to minimize risks for tourists:

Babelgheith said Yemen, strategically located next to top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, had taken steps to make the country safer for tourists including adopting a system of tracking tourist vehicles, in order to keep visitors safe.

“It is computerised. You can locate the car, where is it exactly. You can know the directions of this car,” he said, adding the risk to tourists in most areas of Yemen was “zero”.

“They can travel freely. They will get advice not to move to these certain areas, only escorted. But there are certain areas, which is most of the republic, where they can move freely.”

Whoops:

A German family of five and a Briton are currently missing in Yemen, held by kidnappers the government believes have links to al Qaeda. Another three foreign women seized alongside them in northern Yemen in June were later found dead.

But look at the cool stuff Yemen has to look at. They definitely ought to be thriving on tourism.

and

and

and they do this there:

I think it might be required by law that I include the phrase “ancestral home of Osama bin Laden” when I write about Yemen, so here we are.

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1 Comment

Filed under arab, arabist

One response to “Yemen Gamely Tries to Attract Tourists

  1. ynotoman

    I guess that the wonders of Yemen will be off the tourist trail for a while – they will be missing some extraordinary sights.

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