Handicrafts, Heritage and Employment in the Highlands of Al-Mahweet
Project title: HANDICRAFTS, HERITAGE AND EMPLOYMENT IN AL-MAHWEET
Region: MIDDLE EAST
Current status: Ongoing Concluded
Duration (est.)/dates: September 2010 – December 2012
Partner entities: Ministry of Tourism of Yemen
Source(s) of Funding: ST-EP Foundation
Executing Agency: Ministry of Tourism of Yemen
Main project objective: to alleviate poverty in the Al-Mahweet Governorate of Yemen, through increasing the level of tourism spending in ways that will reach the poor and improving the chances and opportunities for women to participate in tourism. The project will also demonstrate approaches applicable to other similar Yemeni destinations.
Development of a multi-purpose visitor centre: A constructor was selected through a bidding process to carry
out renovation of a traditional building. The building is ready to operate as a Tourism Information Centre (TIC) and also incorporates a handicraft showroom, a base for guides, rest areas and accommodation. A 3-year action plan for the management and operation of the TIC has also been developed.
Improving the quality and diversification of handicraft production: The project carried out a survey on handicrafts and traditional industries which describes the variety of handicrafts, their potential, their linkage with tourism activities and the numbers of people involved in the sector. This study identified the training needs of handcrafters, particularly women’s groups, and served as basis for the training course that took place. The training focused on improving the quality and sales, including designs and product ranges that relate handicrafts better to tourist preferences, and maintaining the traditions and authenticity.
Improving access to tourism employment, including by women: A training course focusing on skills development for tourist guiding, hospitality and public communication was carried out and attended by 30 participants from women associations and craftsmen. In the fourth day of training, a handicrafts show was organized. Moreover, possibilities to create linkages with markets in Al Mahweet, Hodeidah, Sana’a and other major cities were explored.
Promoting more visits to Al-Mahweet especially as an extended trip destination from Sana’a: A Marketing Strategy of Al Mahweet Governorate was formulated and a number of promotional materials were produced: map, booklets, CDs, educational materials, etc. A brochure for crafts produced by women groups and handicraft producers was also prepared.
Promoting opportunities for visitors to donate to social causes: A draft scheme for the use of the visitor fee at TIC and its redistribution to social causes was developed and submitted to the Ministry of Tourism and the local authorities of Al Mahweet. A variable scale of visitor fees will be adopted (adult Yemenis, students, non-Yemenis, etc).
Main project outputs/deliverables:
The TIC of Al Rajum is operational and coordination mechanisms between Yemen Tourism and Promotion Board and the Ministry of Tourism have been enhanced. The TIC is operative with support of the Ministry of Tourism as well as the Governorate of Al Mahweet.
Capacities have been built for women groups at the local level. Specific personal benefits identified by individuals included: development of leadership skills; desire to work; first experience of working in teams; and improved self-respect, as well as respect for others. One interviewee claimed that the ST-EP project allowed “illiterate women to participate in the development and promotion of their local heritage”.
Remarks: As international tourist arrivals to Yemen declined during the project implementation because of the security situation, the project tried to ensure that the new products developed could also target the domestic/regional market.