Yemen is taking to the road to attract more visitors and double its tourism revenue by 2015, despite the challenge of changing people's perceptions of the country. "Yemen has many tourism attraction factors," Omar Babelgheith, the deputy minister for tourism development at the Yemen ministry of tourism, said at the Arabian Travel Market. "Yemen is very rich in its culture, civilisation and heritage."
Its ecotourism projects and beaches would also appeal to visitors, Mr Babelgheith said. "Our target market is the whole world." He said the aim was to attract 1.5 million tourists a year by 2015 and bring in revenues of US$2 billion (Dh7.34bn). Last year, Yemen attracted 1.1 million tourists, with by far most of them from the Middle East, and had revenue of $903 million. Mr Babelgheith said tourism revenues rose by more 6 per cent in the first quarter this year compared with the same period last year.
"Unfortunately, there is a travel warning alert from the [EU] but we still receive tourists from Europe," he said. Mr Babelgheith said the media had exaggerated the situation in Yemen. "It's very challenging for us but we have to work hard to clear the image." The tourism board was participating in 13 travel exhibitions around the world and conducted roadshows in five major European cities last year. He said fewer than 10 tourists were kidnapped in Yemen last year, a tiny percentage of the country's visitors.