Yemen promises visitors a friendly welcome as tourism promotion drive moves up a gear
The Yemen Tourism Promotion Board (YTPB) announces it is ramping up its marketing initiatives ahead of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) - Dubai World Trade Centre, 4th - 7th May 2010, which also marks the run up to the country’s tourist high season.
The YTPB is determined to use the internationally recognised event to showcase its range of offerings from a wealth of historical sites to fabled mountain landscapes while dispelling mis-perceptions about the safety and security of visitors to the country.
Speaking ahead of his visit, Omar Babelgheth, Yemen’s Deputy Minister for Tourism, revealed a set of better than expected tourist arrival figures for 2009 with receipts from tourism increasing six per cent to US$903 million.
“Despite a series of negative reports, tourist arrivals during 2009 were very encouraging,” he said, “showing an increase of seven per cent over 2008. Sixty eight per cent of these visitors came from the Middle East region – predominantly Saudi Arabia and Oman, although visitors from Egypt and Syria also showed a very healthy increase of 39 per cent over the previous year.
Asia accounted for 12 per cent of tourist arrivals – 31 per cent higher than in 2008 - with two out of every five of those visitors originating from India. Ten per cent of the visitors came from Europe – up an overwhelming 23 per cent on the previous year and with the UK representing one third of those people – up 52 per cent on 2008. Meanwhile, Australian visitor numbers increased by 28 per cent and those from the Americas increased by 41 per cent.
“Numbers tailed off slightly towards the end of the year, but I am pleased to see that the trend is being reversed,” added Babelgheth. “One of the reasons for our optimism for renewed growth is that Yemen has a long history of welcoming guests from neighbouring countries and in these difficult economic times our country - a relatively short flight away for most Gulf States – provides an affordable family holiday, and welcome respite from the oppressive Gulf heat. Plus there is the added bonus of boundless historical treasure sites to explore.
Newly appointed Executive Director at the YTPB, Fatima Al-Huraibi, the first female to hold the position, recognised that her new job presented many challenges.
“Unfortunately, it is a sad reflection on world tourism today that very few countries can offer total peace of mind when it comes to the safety and security matters,” she said. “We are working tirelessly with other government departments to ensure discreet but optimal levels of security for our own citizens as well as business and leisure tourists.
“We are determined not to let the actions of a few wreck our aspirations to build a strong tourism industry and I have a simple message which is that Yemen is an extraordinary country, one which deserves to be more widely recognised as an outstanding and unique destination and is well worth a visit.
“Every visitor who comes here is astounded by the warm welcome they receive. Building on a better and more accurate image of our incredible country, we hope to further develop infrastructure and services to match our world class attractions. With four UNESCO World Heritage Sites and our very own ‘Galapagos’ - the island of Socotra - Yemen stands every chance of establishing itself as the must-see destination of the future.”