Tourism paves the way for Yemeni youths


(eTN) – Established by the government of the Republic of Yemen, with support from the European Commission, the National Hotel & Tourism Institute (NAHOTI) today plays a key role in molding and training Yemeni youth in hospitality and tourism.

Sana’a-based NAHOTI dean Khaled Alduais believes his organization will serve the future development of Yemen’s tourism, with the institute becoming a key resource providing local and regional markets with well-trained staff in hotel and tourism. He said NAHOTI fulfils a major need in manpower development for the tourism sector, operating as a vocational training institute, as well as, a commercial enterprise through operating an application hotel.

“By providing a safe, secure and conducive environment to all stakeholders, we give every student the opportunity to acquire relevant, up-to-date knowledge in international hotel and tourism operation, developing their skills for present and future needs. NAHOTI is Yemen’s only high level training institute that offers theoretical and practical training in hospitality and tourism. It has capacity for 240 diploma students per year,” Alduais said.

NAHOTI offers two diplomas at the end of a two-year study program: one for hospitality services (hospitality service operator) and the other, for tourism services (tourism service operator). “Within the hospitality section, students master four disciplines: front office, food and beverage, housekeeping, food production. After the completion of one semester, students receive a certificate from the discipline taken. The tourism section has general classes in the first year and proceeds to practical training session, preferably outside NAHOTI, or break into two specialized fields of tour operation and tour guiding,” said Alduais. After the final exam, graduates receive a national diploma from the Ministry of Technical Education and Vocational Training.

Sad and terrible facts
It’s very important for people to realize that NAHOTI maybe one serious step towards reform, “cleaning up” and moving forward.
Not long ago, Scotland Yard interrogated terror leader Abu Hamza over accusations of having links with the extremist Yemeni group Jaysh Adan Abyan al-Islami, which kidnapped Western tourists in December 1998 and killed four of them. Yemeni authorities also accused Hamza of recruiting 10 men, including his own son, and sending them to Yemen to carry out attacks against US targets. The son was arrested and imprisoned. Abu Hamza, though, was freed for lack of evidence. Tourism came to a halt.

Boldly claimed by local officials, Yemen came to the forefront in the fight against terrorism after 9/11. Authorities confirmed that while the republic has been turned into a virtual battleground by militant extremists, the government fiercely fought back.

The Yemeni Embassy confirmed the tremendous impact of terrorism on its soil. Tourism plunged after the series of attacks since 1997 when a car bomb carrying 68 kilograms of TNT exploded in Aden. Tourist facilities had been badly affected as well as travel agencies, hotels, tourist-related restaurants, souvenir shops and bazaars as a result of the sharp drop in tourist numbers since 1999 following the Abyan incident in December 1998. Arrivals declined by 40 percent in 1999 from 1998.

According to the embassy, 90 percent of bookings made with hotels and agencies were cancelled; occupancies declined to a minimum 10 percent in many hotels, agencies, restaurants; many tourist transportation service closed down; foreign and Arab airliners suspended flights to the republic. There was massive lay-off in tourism companies following the sustained tailspin in the industry as a result of the attacks on the USS Cole in the port of Aden and the French oil tanker Limburg in the Al Daba port in Al-Mukala, Hadhramount.

The embassy reported tourist revenues 1998 to 2001 crashed to 54. 7 percent. Nonetheless, the World Travel and Tourism Council showed personal T&T to Yemen got stronger and business travel, with a large impact on GDP and job growth in 2004 posted significant growth over 2003. Government spending inched a few notch up, but capital investment remained stagnant.

In January 2004, President Bush commended the efforts by President Ali Abdullah Saleh in fighting terrorism. Seeing Yemen’s attempts at understanding democracy, Washington approved Yemen as an effective partner in fighting terrorism following the September 11 events – after the republic launched a campaign to quash Al-Qaida operations. Terrorist members were brought to justice.

Yemeni Human Rights Minister Amat Abdel Alim al Sousouwa, also former ambassador of Yemen to the Hague in the Netherlands, told eTurbo News: “Yemen is getting better every day. One can come and see for himself but, of course, there have been alerts on sites of certain diplomatic missions such as the US Embassy’s on the net. Overall, we have a huge number of tourists coming from the West.”

Yemen has often been the theater for few terrorist acts since 2000 even before the events of September 11. “Yemen had been targeted through the USS Cole, the Limburg explosion, the British Embassy and so many incidences that people think in their minds, the bombings have been caused by internal terrorism,” Alim said. Adding, “There have been justifications by certain religious groups expressing the creation of a wall, if you will.”

Alim referred to the incident in El Hadaq in the northern part of Yemen, also a whole world of difference. She said the terrorists called for “speaking of the ultimate truth, to acquire power by overthrowing the law as they deserve to be the law.” According to Alim, “Their mentality required us to look into the history and reasons why they are committed – they did not develop obviously in a vacuum. They were really there to hide, unfortunately there was no way to nail them down or follow-up and monitor their operations right from the very beginning of their existence.”

Yemen officials didn’t realize how big and deep this dark influence was. “People have lost lives [and families]. Some thought what hope is there for them [when all is gone]. It is poverty in the country they see they cannot overcome in their lifetime. Poverty takes so much work and effort to alleviate,” added Alim.

This is why youth institutions, like NAHOTI, can perhaps revolutionize the way the Yemeni youth is brought up. Prevent them from giving in to the system and the temptation, because, ultimately, isn’t it time for tourism, instead of terrorism, that feeds Yemeni mouths and pockets?