Socotra, promising tourist site facing challenges

Yemen News Agency SABA
Socotra, promising tourist site facing challenges
[14/ May/2014]
By: Mohammad Yaseen

SANA'A, May 14 (Saba)-Heads of a number of tourist agencies have confirmed tourism in Socotra Governorate is one of the most promising sites in the world as the archipelago remains the most desired Yemeni tourist destination in the world tourist market.

Socotra was known before announcing it as a governorate by a presidential decree issued on December 2013 as Socotra Island or Socotra Archipelago.

Talking to Saba, the heads of tourist agencies noted that the increasing demands of visiting Socotra in the world tourism market is because of the security stability, the biological variety and tourist different tourist attractions making Socotra one of the most tourist destinations in the world. Furthermore, the governorate has been included in UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2008. The heads of tourist agencies praised the Ministry of Tourism's announcement making Soqatra a capital for environment tourism as this will promote tourism in the Island.

They noted that there are still some sort of challenges facing tourism in the governorate like security, limited direct flights to Soqatra and the humble hotel services.

The Chairman of the Board of Abu Taleb Groups Mohammad Abdulkarim Abu Taleb confirmed that tourism in Soqatra is promising in the future as the only safe tourist destination in Yemen despite the security deteriorated situation in other parts in the country, noting that during participation in the recent international shows, it has been noticed that Socotra has been the only desirable tourist destination currently.

"We have focused our attention on propagating for the Island via brochures, guides and tourist programs," said Mohammad Abu Taleb, adding that they have prepared many programs to tourists longing for Socotra. These programs are variable and distributed on different periods they wanted through them to recuperate their losses.

Abu Taleb made it clear that the security challenge in the country is one of the biggest challenges in the country as they impede tourists not to leave Sana'a International Airport, a matter makes them facing difficulties in having direct flights to the Island.

Abu Taleb added that there are direct flights coming from outside Yemen to Socotra from the UAE for example, but they face a problem in having additional seats because Al- Saeeda Airlines jets are small. He demanded also investments in field of hotels because of limited number of hotels in the Island.

He expressed his group's intention to invest in hospitality field. "We are leading investors in this field and we have the idea of investing in the island since early 1990s but the security situation makes us rethink (of implementation)."

For his part, the Director of Jammallah Tourist Company Mohammad Abdulnabi Baze' expressed hope that many problems facing tourism in Socotra are solved, highlighting the recent visit of the delegation of the Ministry of Tourism, Tourist Promotion Council and the Union of Tourism and Travel Companies to the Island. The visit resulted on announcing Socotra Governorate a capital to environment tourism in Yemen as this will be reflected positively on the tourist future or the Island and will attract attention of international organizations specialized in environment and natural protectorates in the world.

Baze' confirmed that taking care of the Soqatra Archipelago must contain improving infrastructure, hotel services, aviation, restaurants, roads and sanitation, in addition to creating a center for diving.

Baze' indicated that his companies provides camel riding in the tourist environment protectorates in the Island, diving, climbing mountains, camping in the protectorates and watching rare flora and fauna.

Deputy Chairman of the Boards of the International Company for Hospitality Mohammad al-Nuzaili stressed that tourism in Socatra is promising, highlighting President Hadi's decree on announcing the Island as a governorate for this has strategic and economic dimensions helping the development in the Island.

Al-Nuzaili said human being in Socatra is humble in his nature and treats tourists gently and this makes him one of the most components that attract tourists to the Island, in addition to wildlife, plant biology and marine life which they do not pose any harm to others.

He added that the door is opened before those who want to work in different fields of tourism and this door must not be closed and that the work should go in accordance with rules and regulations that ensure the professionalism and morals of the work and keep the beautiful image of Socatra and its population. This image is considered a main component in the Island's assets.

He hoped that many problems like unplanned construction inside the Island be solved. What is needed is urban planning, having a system to protect hygiene in the Island as interface of important tourist attractions in Yemen.

Socatra Archipelago or Socatra Governorate, which is located in the Indian Ocean off the Horn of Africa, is consisted of four islands; Socatra, Abdulkori, Samha and Darsa and the uninhabited island of Radsa.

The Island has been listed as one of the 10 rich islands in the world because of its biological variety for it includes 200 types of rare flora out of 600 in the world and many of these plants are used in traditional medicine.

It is expected that the announcement the Island as a governorate will qualify the island to be world tourist capital, especially after being classified by the UNESCO as the fourth world environment location. The Ministry of Tourism seeks to confirm this title internationally to attract the attention of world environment organizations.