Not Enough Is Spent on Tourism Sector, Interview
The Ministry of Tourism, Antiquities, and Wild Life is considered one of the ministries relied upon economically to boost national income.
The ministry remained dormant for years, but the young, recently appointed minister Mohammed Abdul Karim Al-hud makes appreciable efforts to activate the role of his ministry politically, economically, and socially and to reflect the bright nature of Sudan and the fact that it has a civilization that reaches far back in history.
Through attracting tourists and training many in the profession of handicrafts, the ministry proved that it can reflect the civilized dimensions of Sudan, that it can fight poverty and unemployment and raise individuals’ income through employing many in this field. Sudan Vision interviewed the minister to find out more about the subject, following is what he said.
Q: Tourism needs to be promoted through the ministries of information and foreign affairs; do you coordinate with these ministries?
A: Of course. We are activating the role the ministry of media plays in reflecting Sudanese touristic attractions and we coordinate with the ministry of foreign affairs through the cultural and trading attachés whom we supply with all the needed information to promote Sudanese tourism abroad. We are in need of holding workshops with the cooperation of the two ministries to reenergize diplomatic and media efforts to promote Sudanese tourism and heritage.
Q: Would you please elaborate on your efforts to train tourist guides and develop tourist tools?
A: We formed a committee to issue regulations to organize the training and work of tourist guides because tourist guides, despite being private sector employees, represent the image and heritage of the country which must dealt with transparently and credibly.
Tourist guides are also an important element in popular diplomacy process as well as Tourists who are instructed by international tourism bodies to try to conform to local traditions, customs, and heritage during their visits to show respect for other civilizations.
Tourist guides in Sudan, not exceeding 40, are clean people who commit to religion, heritage, and faith values and are trained in different fields of knowledge by national and foreign travel agencies.
Q: We noticed the feeble guarding of archaeological sites, and the contents of several cemeteries have been stolen. How so you deal with this issue? Are there forces trained for these purposes and to protect such sites?
This issue is dealt with on two levels. The first is the culture and media level which focuses on making citizens aware of the importance of the antique jewelry and artifacts and that they must be taken to the authorities immediately when found and cash compensation will be paid for them in the market value of the jewelry and artifacts. This dimension is important and can be elaborated on further. The second level is protection by security and police forces. There is a police force by the name of “Tourism and National Heritage Police force (TNHPF)”, it’s a force that belongs to the ministry of tourism and is required to protect antiquities, artifacts, and national heritage. There are currently TNHPF departments in Gedarif, Kassala, and efforts to have one in Gezira and all Sudanese states considering how important this branch of police is in protecting national heritage. The increase of the size of the force and providing it with the necessities of operation such as vehicles, weaponry, etc are important factors in containing and eradicating the robbery and smuggling of the country’s precious antique treasures which tell the country’s history. These acts are also damaging to the national income as well.
Q: Sudanese satellite TV channels do not promote tourism at all, how do you perceive this issue?
A: We seek to promote tourism through displaying, or sponsoring activities that display, tourist attractions and information in TV channels such as Ashrooq. We are seeking to have a greater deal of coordination with these channels to reflect Sudan as a country with tourist attractions.
Activating media work; we started holding a monthly forum last December on the 14th of each month at Grand Holiday Villa whose management we thank for the sponsorship.
Q: Did you benefit from the experiences of Egypt in promoting tourism?
A: Undoubtedly. We benefitted a lot in terms of training in the past in Egypt, but there is a difference between Sudan and Egypt lies in the fact that there are barriers between the two peoples of the two countries in how they approach sentimental values and values in general which relate to how a visitors and tourists are treated. In Sudan, we need to change the way the Sudanese think and perceive tourism to ensure that some of the full-blown generosity acts are contained within a reasonable degree towards tourists and visitors in general but in a way that does not interfere with the traditions and customs of the Sudanese people.
The Sudanese must learn to how to help tourists spend their money in obtaining great tourism experiences. We believe that the Egyptians have developed the way in which handicrafts are made and marketed in a manner that transformed it into a tool to increase personal individual income. Egyptians have developed a way to exploit handicrafts and market them turning them into one of the resources for fighting poverty, developing the economy, and employ vast categories of people, considering that tourists prefer them and love to take them back as souvenirs.
|Mohammed Abdul Karim Al-hud , Mohamed Babikir|
Q: Some of the historical Sites in Sudan have been affected by natural factors such as erosion to a degree that threatens to change them, Dindir national park and the historical area of Fazoogli, have any arrangements been taken to save these areas?
This year the autumn in Dindir has been an exceptional one, 42 hafirs (water basins that keep water till the next autumn) have been completely filled with water. I have visited Dindir national park last week to prepare for the next season and give the necessary directives. Dindir Park is 10 thousand square kilometers in area, that’s about as large as Lebanon, and can be also promoted as a place for boat racing and for picnicking.
Q: Have any archaeological sites been discovered in Sudan?
A: Many discoveries were made during the construction of the Roseiris Dam and some graves have recently been discovered in Khartoum.
The Qataris have funded a project to finance 7 archaeological missions for 5 years, and this project will be kicked off this year.
The Qatari funding is also for maintaining the Sudan National Museum and the Islamic Museum, building airports in Bejrawiya in River Nile and Berkel in the Northern State, and building hotels and motels near tourist and archaeological areas.
By Mohamed Babikir,