The Minister of Tourism in the Sanaa-based National Salvation Government has revealed the extent of the losses sustained by Yemen's tourism industry as a result of five years of aggression by the US-backed, Saudi-led coalition.
In a press conference yesterday, Ahmed Al-Alayi stated that the coalition had destroyed 475 tourist archaeological sites and monuments since the start of its aggression. The conflict and coalition-imposed blockade has also led to the loss of thousands of jobs that were supporting thousands of families worth an estimated $890 million, reports the Sanaa-based Saba news agency.
"The tourism sector was subjected to the largest fierce attack that targeted all aspects and trends of Yemeni tourism, including monuments and tourist facilities," the minister said. Specifically, Alayi added that more than 95 per cent of employees in the tourism industry have lost their jobs.
According to statistics released by the ministry, over the past five years, the coalition destroyed, 25 historical cities, 25 mausoleums, and 42 archaeological monuments, in addition to 252 hotels, 81 restaurants, 12 festival halls, 38 gardens and parks, and eight cafes and cafeterias.
Al-Masirah also noted how much of Yemen's heritage serves as a source of national income, which is partly why the Saudis targeted it. "Preserving it is an appreciation of the value of these monuments," Alayi is quoted as saying. "The targeting of these monuments of human heritage in Yemen confirms the lack of responsibility in the US-Saudi aggression actions."
One of the crimes against Yemen's heritage was the attack on the ancient city of Baraqish which was targeted by coalition airstrikes, destroyed and looted during the time of its occupation. The area is now under Houthi control. These incidents are similar, he argued to what has happened on the Socotra Island, where coalition partner the UAE is reported to have removed a number of Dracaena cinnabari (Dragon's Blood) trees and transported them to the Emirates.
The minister renewed calls for UNESCO and the Security Council to take responsibility for protecting and preserving the heritage in Yemen. The country, whose history dates back over 3,000 years, has unique culture and architecture and is home to one of the oldest civilisations in the world. The capital Sanaa, has been inhabited for more than 2,500 years.