Somalia’s Federal Government says it has been in the process of introducing a master-plan to revive the tourism industry and allow for the country’s re-admission into the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

The country’s successful re-admission was recently announced during the 22nd UNWTO General Assembly in Chengdu, China after securing a two-thirds majority vote. Somalia is now the 157th Member State and 50th African countries to be admitted. It joins the organization along with Comoros the 158th Member States and 51st African country.

The admission is despite security challenges in the country with frequent terror attacks on restaurants and hotels. Mogadishu, a region which in the past had some of the most beautiful hotels and beach views is currently unable to host foreign tourists due to continued attacks and bombings in the city by the Al-Qaeda-linked militant group Al-Shabab. The security situation is the city is precarious. Al-Shabab has carried out two deadly attacks, one of which was on a popular restaurant, leaving more than 20 people dead.

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On his visit to Madrid, Spain, the Somali Minister of Information, Culture & Tourism Abdirahman Omar Osman (Yarisow) met with the Secretary General of United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Taleb D. Refai, along with his deputy and the UNWTO Director of Africa.

The Minister together with his Advisor on Tourism, Yasir Baffo, provided an update on the history and current potential for the tourism industry in Somalia. “Even though Somalia is still improving security in order to bring peace and stability back to the country, nevertheless, as Federal Government of Somalia we need to lay down the foundations, strategies and plans that are necessary to revive the tourism industry,” said the hopeful Somali Minister. “… in the next few years, when the country becomes peaceful, we won’t waste any time attracting tourists and foreign investment back into the country,” he added.

On his part, Taleb D. Refai assured that his organization will do all it can to help Somalia plan ahead so that the country will be able to attract tourists, especially since it is so strategically located at the Horn of Africa. It is for this reason the world tourism body agreed to facilitate Somalia becoming a member so it can benefit from the experience, the technical expertise, and the existing networks of other member states.

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The Somali tourism industry is fast growing, which helps job creation, cultural exchanges and economic growth that Somalia is so desperately in need of right now. “In order for Somalia to reduce poverty, illiteracy and unemployment, we need to think outside of the box and to come up with ways the country can attract investment to boost its economy,” Minister Yarisow said. “Somalis are nomadic people and an oral society who love travel, as we have seen Somali Diaspora travelling all over the world,” the minister added.