Jordan Conference: How can destinations seize the opportunities afforded by rapidly changing market conditions?

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Moderator:
Aqel Biltaji (senator and president, Heritage and Tourism Committee at council of Senators): I have long wanted to see this kind of event here in Jordan. I am glad to have lived to see this day come. It’s amazing to see so many experts in travel and tourism gather here in Jordan. Travel and tourism is not only sensitive and resilient, it is the most responsive industry.

Panelists:
Mohammad M. Quesi (commissioner, Petra Development & Tourism Region Authority): The government of Jordan recognizes the importance of this jewel [Petra]. First mandate is to preserve, enhance its sustainability and increasing investment. I have not seen resilience as that is shown in Petra. We have to improve and develop the product culturally, socially and environmental. Local community is very much involved with the Authority. A committee was established to oversee tourism development in Petra. We are trying develop products to cater to all [market] segments.

Munir Nassar (chairman, Jordan Inbound Tour Operators Association): The best way to face change is to pull efforts together. We have 28 members (at JITOA) and 8 associate members from academia. Niche markets are important and are being talked about by our members–adventure tourism, etc. We assist in marketing and promoting. One cannot deny that the turmoil in the last 18 months have had an impact on Jordan. We are somewhat insulated from these changes. We have managed to maintain a healthy occupancy rate. This is a testament to the versality of the destination. And we are not sitting down– we are working with JTB to come up with products.

Ziad Dakkak (member, Jordan Inbound Tour Operators Association): Jordan is open for all kinds of tourism–MICE, eco-tourism, adventure. The safest and stable country. Jordan can adopt quickly to changes and challenges. We continue to be great support to promote and present Jordan. To present Jordan as a stand-alone destination. We see more increase North and South America. We need to present both Aqaba and the Red Sea as stand-alone destinations. The hidden power of the Dead Sea are already attracting tourists. Jordan deserves larger share. We need to invest in activity and entertainment.

Anna Paolini (head of UNESCO, Amman): The main driving power [of tourism] of this country is the culture and natural heritage. It’s uniqueness contribute to attractiveness. Two more sites are being considered to be heritage sites–Wadi Dana and Wadi Mujib. Both Petra and Wadi Rum an added value that is recognized by UNESCO– the Bedouin community. Dialogue [between the community and tourists] is a very powerful tool to bridge gaps cultures.

Dr. Suzy Hatough Bouran (director, AIDiafa for Tourism Human Development Consultancy): Human resource is recognized by Jordan in its competitiveness. Tourism is the largest employer [in Jordan] with 17%. Tourism awareness campaign is going to be put in place. Quality is very important… will increase employability. Education has been upgraded. Focus is given to quality assurance.

Stellan Lind (founder and chairman, The Roman Army and Chariot Experience): We make things come alive to add value to the site [Jerash]. We have to do it right, so we brought an expert from Rome. We did not want to do, with all due respect to Disney, a “Mickey Mouse” operation. People are interested in what they are seeing. People come up to us saying, “Oh, I did not know that.” People who come to Jordan want to know and leave Jordan with knowledge.

Dr. Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat (managing director, Jordan Tourism Board): We need to define the product. At JTB, we are redefining the product.