By: Hornnewspaper Editor
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The country is continuously attracting a multitude of tourists from all parts of the world, who are attracted by their excitement of a safe haven next to the volatile Somalia.
While this is good for the country as pertains to economics and the quest for international recognition a number of issues need urgent remedies in-order not only to sustain the trend but increase on it.
While acquiring visas to the country from our representatives abroad is commendable due to the speed of issue these tourists are faced with a myriad of bureaucratic procedures that need redress.
Once in the country, they are required to visit the tourism department where they have to pay $25 each for a permit to visit the Laas Geel rock paintings where they have to pay the government guards another supplementary fee, which is on top of what they pay a tour guide.
Now why should they pay the $25 to the tourism dept. if it does not cover the cost of tour guides and guards at the site who are all government employees?
Why is it that demands for a permit cover Laas Geel only? Does it mean that the country has no other touristic sites?
Another issue is on travelling where the tourists have as a must to hire private vehicles since they cannot travel through public means. When travelling out of Hargeisa, they have to be accompanied by armed escorts, which costs another $10-20 each day.
This needs to be redressed, as it is a restriction that needs not be in effect considering that it was instigated during the height of terrorist attacks in the mid 2000’s.
On the other hand, tourist need government help to access other sites outside the beaten track of Livestock market in Hargeisa, Laas Geel and Batalale beach in Berbera that are popular since they are the only areas describe in a book that was originally meant for Ethiopia and Eritrea as its title clearly states.
Therefore what the government needs to do thus enhance our increasing levels of tourists is:
1. Come up, URGENTLY, with a book that gives a clear picture of all the country’s touristic attraction areas, which are plenty, Scenic and historic
2. Remove the fee charge by the tourism department and let each site charge its own entrance fee, as is the norm elsewhere in the world. This change will ultimately increase the revenue base of the central coffers.
3. Explore avenues of ensuring that the tourists can travel by public means while their security should dress in civilian clothes.
These are easy moves for the authorities to rectify thus continue receiving a large number of tourists.