Despite security challenges in the country with frequent terror attacks on restaurants and hotels, Somalia says it is in the mid of process of a master plan to revive the country's tourism industry, according to the Minister of Information, Culture & Tourism Abdirahman Omar Osman (alias Yarisow).
Duringa visit to Madrid, Spain, last week the Somali minister met with the Secretary General of United Nations World Tourism Organization (UN WTO), Taleb D. Refai, along with his deputy and the UN WTO Director of Africa.
The Minister of Information, together with his Advisor on Tourism, Mr Yasir Baffo, provided an update on the history and current potential for the tourism industry in Somalia.
"Even though Somalia is still improving security in order to bring peace and stability back to the country, nevertheless, as Federal Government of Somalia we need to lay down the foundations, strategies and plans that are necessary to revive the tourism industry.” Said the hopeful Somali Minister.
"… in the next few years, when the country becomes peaceful, we won’t waste any time attracting tourists and foreign investment back into the country.” He added.
Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, the centre of the once most beautiful hotels and beach views is currently unable to host foreign tourists due to continued attacks and bombings in the city by the Al-Qaeda-linked militant group Al-Shabab.
In the past two weeks, Al-Shabab carried two deadly attacks, including one on a popular restaurant in Mogadishu which left more than 20 people dead.
But the country’s Federal Government says it is now in the process of introducing a Master-plan to revive the tourism industry and, at the same time, allow the country’s re-admission into membership of United Nations World Tourism Organization.
On his part, Taleb D. Refai assured that his organization will do all it can to help Somalia plan ahead so that the country will be able to attract tourists, especially since it is so strategically located on the Horn of Africa.
The world tourism body agreed to facilitate Somalia becoming a member so that it can benefit from the experience, the technical expertise, and the existing networks of other member states.
Somalis are natural entrepreneurs and in Mogadishu alone there are over 100 travel agencies as well as a number of locally owned private airlines.
Fly Dubai and Ethiopian Airlines fly to Hargeisa while Turkish Airlines fly daily to and from Mogadishu.
The tourism industry is fast growing, which helps job creation, cultural exchanges and economic growth that Somalia is so desperately in need of right now.
In order for Somalia to reduce poverty, illiteracy and unemployment, we need to think outside of the box and to come up with ways the country can attract investment to boost its economy. Minister Yarisow said.
Somalis are nomadic people and an oral society who love travel, as we have seen Somali Diaspora travelling all over the world. The minister added.
In the meantime efforts by Somali business community’s to introduce new initiatives and also how busy Somali airports are already with hundreds of local and international flight weekly.
The country now says it is the right time to introduce a master-plan for tourism in preparation for the inevitable stability and peace.
It is the right time to become a member of the World Tourism Organization in order to benefit from them rather than re-inventing the wheel.