Ecotourism in Yemen

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Soqotra Island off Yemen

Ecotourism in Yemen.Politics aside, an ecotourism holiday in Yemen is something few have experienced yet many would enjoy. While the current political situation in Yemen is unstable, and visitor visas are not being issued at this time, the hope is that ecotourism in Yemen will soon be possible again. When the time comes, visitors will be amazed at what this underexplored country has to offer.

Eternal Yemen

Consistently lauded for their high quality tours and excellent service, Eternal Yemen is the leading ecotourism operator in Yemen. They offer services in eight different languages, and are abound with local knowledge and local experiences. They are aware that many of their visitors will be new to Yemen, and as such, their website is unbelievably comprehensive and detailed. Details like this demonstrate why Eternal Yemen has received the awards and recognition it has.

Eternal Yemen has ecotourism experiences that vary in style, but are mostly targeted to travellers seeking adventure and cultural immersion. Eternal Yemen’s tours give visitors an opportunity to experience the real Yemen, with local authenticity. Many tours begin in the capital, Sana’a, and its colourful and inspiring markets, which serve as an ideal introduction to Yemeni culture. Eternal Yemen also offers daily excursions, quick breaks, and longer tours that are able to fully highlight the exciting and fascinating landscapes Yemen has to offer.

However, the star ecotourism attraction in Yemen is Soqotra (Socotra) Island, an island and archipelago about 500 miles south of the Yemeni coast, between the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. Also known as the Island of the Dragon’s Blood Tree, Soqotra is remote and often times inaccessible, making it a truly off-the-beaten-track ecotourism destination.

Conservation and Development in Yemen

Despite the country’s political challenges, there is agreement in the need to conserve and develop Soqotra, Yemen’s primary ecotourism destination, in a sustainable way. With the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Soqotra Archipelago Conservation and Development Programme (SCDP) was established in the late 1990s/early 2000s, with a goal to “coordinate all government donor efforts towards sustainable human development for the people of the Socotra Archipelago, while conserving the globally significant biodiversity of these unique islands”.

Through a number of projects and activities, as well as the strategic coordination of a conservation zoning plan, the SCDP has studied and implemented plans that include poverty alleviation and environmental, water, and health concerns for the local population. Additionally, the local population are involved in community-based tourism through the Socotra Eco-Tourism Society, an NGO established in 2003 that is managed entirely by local socotri people. They conduct ecotours as a means for sustainable development, and have professional guides and naturalists to lead tours throughout the island. It is unclear, however, how active the SCDP program and Eco-Tourism Society are now, as the programme was initiated over ten years ago, and does not appear to be updated much since 2003.

Ecotourism in Yemen

Travellers who have returned from Yemen remark on its unique beauty, warm hospitality, expansive deserts, stunning coastlines, and the ethereal timelessness and sense of eternity the country and its landscapes exude. Ecotourism in Yemen is an exciting adventure that is considered to be very off-the-beaten path, and something keep an eye out for in the future.

Photo Credit: Banco de Imágenes Geológicas

Ecotourism in Yemen
Ecotourism in Yemen