Ottoman era castle attracts tourists in Somalia

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Somali official seeks Turkiye’s expertise to help African country to promote tourism industry

Even as the lack of good roads is proving dampener, tourists in Somalia are flocking to visit Ottoman-era building as the country in the Horn of Africa recovers from weak governances and insecurity.

Taleh, an important castle in Somalia that once hosted the Dervish movement led by Sayyid Mohamed Abdulle Hassan, one of the country’s freedom icons, is turning into an important tourist destination.

Historical records suggest that backed by the Ottomans, Hassan had launched an armed struggle against colonial powers.

After gaining independence from British and Italian colonial powers in 1960, Somalia recognized the importance of the Hassan and Taleh castle, located in the Sool region in the northern breakaway region of Somaliland.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency over phone, Mohamed Awkombe, a veterinary medicine graduate who visited Ottomans era buildings in Telleh, said the tourism in the area is coming back at a slow pace.

Describing the lack of good roads challenging for the visitors who are visiting the historic castle located some 80 kilometers (49 miles) from Garowe, the administrative capital of the semiautonomous region of Puntland of Somalia, he said it was refreshing to revisit the history and Somalia’s historical relations with Turkiye.

“The way engineers designed buildings are very beautiful,” he said.

Senior Tourism Adviser to Information Ministry Yasir Mohamed Baffo urged Turkiye to help Somalia’s cultural and tourism industry to thrive.

“As we know Turkiye is supporting the Somali government, private sector, and education. Tourism can play a major role in peace stability and economic growth. After helping the country in providing humanitarian, military aid and in education over past 10 years, Turkiye should help the country’s tourism,” Baffo said, who is also the founder and CEO of Bravo Baffo Ltd, a tourism company based in Rwanda.

When speaking about the site of Taleh’s historical sites, he said it needs more attention, mechanism and both the Somali government and international organization like UNESCO need to make a study and recognize the archaeological site.

He pointed out that there are many ways to uplift the tourism sector in the country, but it has to start from the government to give full attention and priority, in addition, tourism can play a huge role in peacebuilding, integration, economic growth, job creation and Somalia image at large.

Before the civil war, Somalia was the preferred tourist destination for holiday goers, because the Horn of African nation has the longest coastline in mainland Africa, stretching about 3,333 kilometers (2,017 miles).

Recalling how suicide bombing, the defeating sound of gunfire, impunity, and planned assassinations were the order of the day in the capital city Mogadishu, he said Somalia has recovered and has ushed now in a peaceful era.

He said Somalia has joined the United Nations World Tourism Organization in late 2017, which will encourage foreign investors especially in the sector of tourism.

He noted that Hafun and Gobweyn — a small town located where Somalia’s Shabelle river meets with the Indian Ocean — could be one of the two largest tourism destinations with its “authentic and natural view.”

“Somalia tourism destination can’t be described in one or two paragraphs but those destinations can be considered one of the long list of tourism destinations,” he said.

“Somalia needs to implement Private Public Partnership, Foreign Investment Policy and committed to the security stability to have both local and foreigners to invest in the tourism sector within a short period.”

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