Pictured: There is hope for the MENA region’s troublespots according to MENATA executive director Peter Lilley
Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Algeria and Libya may not be everyone’s first choice of holiday destination but all five countries are being promoted by a new travel industry association which aims to highlight the tourist attractions of the Middle East and North Africa.
The Middle East & North Africa Travel Association (MENATA), which began operations today (11.1.11) and covers 21 countries including 18 from the Arab world, says there is no reason why nations which currently shy away from tourism or are avoided by foreign visitors cannot re-invent themselves as holiday hotspots.
“Look what’s happened to places like Vietnam, Cambodia and Rwanda,” said MENATA’s executive director Peter Lilley
“Countries once ravaged by war or genocide are now re-emerging as some of the trendiest travel destinations around.”
He suggested the same thing could happen in Iraq.
“It might seem unthinkable to some people that, given the enormity of the challenges it faces, Iraq should still be supporting a ministry of tourism & antiquities,” added Mr Lilley.
“But it could play a valuable role in helping to rebuild the country and boost its battered economy.”
Yemen was another country currently largely avoided by western tourists, but was one of Arabia’s undiscovered gems and had the potential to be one of the great tourist destinations of the future, said Lilley.
Membership of MENATA is open to all sectors of the travel industry with an interest in the MENA region.
Benefits include the opportunity to forge alliances and exchange information with other relevant companies; participating in MENATA-organised events and being linked to the MENATA website which provides colourful and informative portraits of each member country.