There’s No Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Warns Yemen’s Board of Tourism

Slate's Culture Blog
May 3 2012 10:04 AM

There’s No Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Warns Yemen’s Board of Tourism

Still from Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Still of Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

© 2011 - CBS Films

Back in February, "Brow Beat" expressed some puzzlement over the appellation of the romantic-comedy Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Why was it called “the Yemen”? And surely there’s no salmon fishing in that desert nation? Well, that last fact hasn’t deterred a flood of new interest following the movie’s release, according to the Yemen Tourism Promotion Board. Benjamin Carey, a Yemen Tourism spokesman, told The Telegraph on Wednesday:

Forrest Wickman Forrest Wickman

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

"There's been a real surge in visitors to our website since the film. There's been thousands of visits to our website.
"One negative is that salmon fishing isn't actually that popular in Yemen, but there are excellent sea fishing opportunities in the country.
"Also, unfortunately the EU is currently advising against travel to Yemen, which we think is excessive.”
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As The Telegraph points out, the Yemen Tourism Promotion Board may be overselling the wisdom of visiting Yemen for recreational angling. In the United Kingdom, where The Telegraph is based, the government has issued a red warning telling Britons to “avoid all travel to the whole country.” Our own U.S. State Department, meanwhile, “urges U.S. citizens not to travel to Yemen,” adding that “U.S. citizens currently in Yemen should depart.”

Not one to let an opportunity slip away, Yemen’s tourism board is also taking an active role in trying to reel in tourists. Cinemagoers to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen in the United Kingdom have also been treated with a 30 second advertisement, depicting the nation as a prime getaway for “scuba diving, paragliding,” and “colorful culture.” The ad also reportedly highlights recent “increased serenity” in the region.

All kidding aside, there really is plenty to see in Yemen:

* The island of Socotra, where the New York Times sampled the frankincense trees and “tasted Christmas.”
* The walled city of Shibam, nicknamed “the Manhattan of the desert.”
* The city of Mocha, a global coffee mecca through the 1700s, though it’s fallen into some disrepair in recent centuries.
* The capital of Sana’a, whose patterned-brick towers really are quite beautiful (when not riddled with bullets).

On the other hand, prospective tourists should also be mindful of:

* Al-Qaida safe havens
* Tribal kidnappings of foreign tourists
* Civil unrest
* Somali pirates (known to refuel in Socotra)
* American predator drones

Some adventurous travelers may be able to enjoy Yemen safely, but it’s probably not advisable for the average weekend fisherman or moviegoer. And one last note for interested tourists: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was actually filmed in Morocco.

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