UNWTO Secretary General's Visit Attests to Sudan's Tourist Potential

By: Aisha Braima

KHARTOUM (Sudanow.info.sd) - In an endeavour to diversify its economy, hit hard by the cessation of oil-rich Southern part of the country, Sudan seems keen to tap alternative sources, including the hitherto neglected tourism sector.
For decades now the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife has stayed in shadows, despite the tremendous role it could play in the economy of the country.
But observers now notice a growing image of this important ministry, thanks to the effort of its minister Mohammad Abuzaid Mustafa and his aides.
Abuzaid in October visited the Headquarters of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), rescheduled Sudan’s standing contributions to the Organization and invited the Organization’s Secretary General Mr.Talib al-Rufae’e to visit Sudan to get first hand information about the country’s tourist attractions and see what could be done to bring this wealth into the international limelight (Please see Gallery page,Sightseeing Photos).
Then Rufae’e paid a four-day visit to the country late last week, toured parts of the country and attended the tenth session of the Red Sea Tourism and Shopping Festival, held in the coastal City of Port Sudan.

President al-Bashir bestows Order of the Two Niles (First Class) on Mr. al-Rufae'e
President al-Bashir bestows Order of the Two Niles (First Class) on Mr. al-Rufae'e

During the festival folklore troupes from Sudan, Eritrea and Egypt presented fantastic shows in Port Sudan Stadium that attracted a massive crowd from the region and from elsewhere in the country.
In a tour of the country’s National Museum (facing the Blue Nile river here) Rufae’e said he was surprised by the artifacts he saw. He said he had never imagined that Sudan had this rich history.
The Museum displays the history of the Sudan’s ancient Kingdoms of Meroe that date back to over one thousand years before Christ, or more. The Museum also contains artifacts from the dynasties that ruled Sudan in different ages.
Rufae’e said the items on display in the Museum and the others stationed or displayed in other museums in the Bajraiyya, al-Barkal, Nuri, al-Kuru, Kerma, Barbar and Sinnar, all distributed in localities along the Nile and easily accessible by land transport, are worth the attention of tourists worldwide.
Sudan’s historical monuments include an unprecedented collection of 100 pyramids, a number of temples and ancient cemeteries that tell a lot about the ancient history of Sudan.
Excavations continue in Kerma in the extreme North to unearth the hidden history of the Kingdom of Kerma. Recent findings therein include royal households and cemeteries. Similar work is also underway at al-Barkal and Barbar. Excavation work is undertaken by archeologists from Switzerland, Germany, France and from elsewhere.
Rufae’e said his Organization was ready to boost the Sudan’s effort to disseminate information about its rich tourist potential.
He said tourism has become an important element in the economies of many countries. ”We can just remember that for every 11 working men and women, one person is working in the tourist sector worldwide, ‘’he said.
Rufaae’e was optimistic about the future of tourism in Sudan. ” As I see it, Sudan’s tourist sector is delving into an important era and is on the threshold of a big turning point, given suitable marketing and propagation ,’’ he said
“It is my pledge to support whatever helps to reflect this bright picture of Sudan and its kind and hospitable people,’’ he said.
He said he was also happy that Sudan was now working hard to bring its tourist wealth to light.
As part of his stay in the Red Sea region, Rufae’e also made a trip to the Sanganeb Marine National Park, now included in the UNESCO Heritage List.
Sanganeb Marine National Park is a coral reef on the Red Sea. The Park is renowned for its coral reefs, which are said to be the best in the world. Sanganeb is 25km off the shoreline of Sudan. The park comprises two areas, the Sanganeb itself, which is the coral reef structure, and Dungonab Bay and Mukkawar Island, which is 125km North of Port Sudan. The site includes coral reefs, mangroves, beaches, sea grass beds, and islets. The reef is the sole atoll on the Red Sea.
The Sanganeb is a habitat for marine mammals, seabirds, turtles, sharks, dolphins, manta rays, and barracudas. About 86 coral species in 35 genera are recorded in the Sanganeb. The reef is recognized for its high levels of biodiversity, and many of its species are very unique. Some 251 species of coral fish have been recorded, but estimates of the actual number suggest they could be as many as 300. It is home to a large number of pelagic fish, which include the wrasse species of tuna, barracuda, sailfish, manta rays, and sharks (including hammerhead sharks). There are numerous sightings of hawksbill turtles on the Sanganeb.




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