AMMAN – American buyers of tourism products ended 2 days of meetings, seminars, and workshops, which brought them together with Jordanian suppliers representing 60 hotels, receptive operators, and other suppliers of travel services in the kingdom. Also attending the event was Robert Whitley, the president of the US Tour Operator Association, who was a keynote speaker and a panel moderator on “Industry Trends and Opportunities.”

The Second Jordan Travel Mart was held at the Dead Sea under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah and with the participation of 100 “buyers” from the USA, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America, who went down to the lowest spot on earth to meet 180 of their Jordanian counterparts.

Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Maha al-Khateeb, who deputized for the Queen, had told participants that through tourism “we can build bridges between people, narrow the gap of understanding, and remove the psychological barriers that exist between people and countries.”

She expressed hope that Jordan Travel Mart will continue to grow and appealed to the media to break away from existing stereotypes and misconceptions of which Jordan has been a victim.

Mrs. Al-Khateeb said with the relentless efforts of the Jordan Tourism Board, 2008 was one of the best years to date. She added that, “It was characterized by impressive increases in tourist numbers from the USA, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil.”

Jordan Tourism Board managing director Nayef al-Fayez announced at the end of the JTM that the next Jordan Travel Mart will be held in February 2010. He said that, “As the Jordan Tourism Board looks with great interest at the potential of doing business with the South American market, we are greatly encouraged by the fact that 30 percent of our JTM buyers represent this important market.”

He said the success of JTM was reflected both in tourist numbers from the Americas, as well as in the interest to attend this annual event from both the American and Jordanian sides.

Recent figures show that overnight visitor numbers from the Americas has risen in 2008 to more than 200,000, which represent a 12.7 percent rise over 2007. Most of those arrivals are US citizens, whose numbers totaled almost 162,000 in 2008.

Argentina and Chile have registered the highest growth in arrival numbers, reaching 134 percent and 106 percent respectively over 2007.

Al-Fayez said that in addition to the South American market, the Jordan Tourism Board is looking at expanding its geographical representation to include China and India.

JTB has recently launched 2 websites in Mandarin and traditional Chinese targeting tourists from China and Hong Kong. The Chinese languages are the newest edition to 8 other international languages available on its website: Arabic, English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and Japanese.

This year’s Jordan Travel Mart seminars focused on the adventure travel segment of the industry. National Geographic Adventure Magazine, The Adventure Travel & Tourism Association, and the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) took part in the event with a special “Adventure Travel” seminar.

Twenty-five international travel industry journalists from the Americas, including reporters from USA Today and the National Geographic, have attended the event and are taking part in specially-planned tours of selected destinations.