Yemen’s domestic tourism sector took a hard hit after Houthi militias plundered its resources and seized its affiliated institutions, local sources based in Houthi-held Sanaa told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Houthis froze the salaries of sector employees and looted its deposits.
Workers at the fund tied to the Yemen Tourism Promotion Board (YTPB), found in Sanaa, revealed that Houthis unrightfully seized up to 70% of their salaries.
They also complained about brutality and injustices carried out by Houthis militants who used force and violence to take over the public fund’s resources and assets.
Houthis have also been accused of hiring their loyalists to fund posts.
Salary deductions, described as enormous by fund workers, did not affect loyalists and were ordered by Mohammed al-Mansour al-Moaeen, the YTPB executive director appointed by the Houthi group.
Fund workers stressed that salaries are a basic right of employees and that Houthis violated the agreement achieved by YTPB management on protecting wages.
A YTPB official, who requested anonymity, revealed that al-Moaeen has put in action a host of measures that target workers in the sector.
“The fund, after it was taken over by Houthis, has been exposed to massive looting and employee reshuffles,” the official said, noting that old employees are being threatened with dismissal and prison.
More than 80 YTPB employees are suffering under Houthi management.
Houthi loyalists, however, are reaping financial benefits reaching 150,000 Yemeni rials per employee.
The official warned that Houthis are funneling millions earned annually by the fund which collects revenues from the entire domestic tourism sector facilities, travel agencies, parks, cafes, and hotels.
A YTPB deposit at a local bank estimated at a billion Yemeni rials was seized by Houthis. The deposit generates monthly profits that amount to 20 million Yemeni rials.
According to the official, Houthis distribute those profits among privileged employees and group leaders.
Also, Houthis have allocated 50% of the fund’s revenues to their group activities and war effort. This took place at a time when fund employees, who are not loyal to Houthis, suffer from paycheck cuts.
Since launching a nationwide coup in 2014, Houthis have targeted the tourism sector in areas of their control and worked to destroy it by carrying out dozens of taxing and unlawful campaigns.