Jordan’s tourism thrives despite regional turmoil


AQABA, Jordan – Jordan’s success in maintaining its security and stability in a turbulent region has reflected positively on the tourism sector, the government said.

Speaking at the opening of the two-day Aqaba 2nd Economic Conference that is held this year under the theme “Towards Innovation and Management in Tourism”, Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit said despite the recent and ongoing events in the region, which have had their toll on the regional tourism sector, Jordan was one of the countries that proved safe and stable enough to survive the crisis.

This was obvious, he noted, in the number of tourists who visited the Kingdom since the beginning of the year. “More than 3,000,000 tourists visited Jordan since the beginning of the year, and the sector generated revenues that stood at JD1.3 billion,” Bakhit said, adding that the number of visitors from the Gulf countries rose by 26 per cent since the beginning of the year, compared to the same period a year earlier.

Meanwhile, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Haifa Abu Ghazaleh said the Kingdom’s investments in the tourism sector reached $1.5 billion in 2010, adding that Jordan has specific policies and mechanisms to encourage further investments in the industry.

These policies, she noted should take into consideration the environment and geography of the place.

On the sidelines of the conference, Michael Nazzal, chairman of the Jordan Tourism Association, told The Jordan Times that none of the investments in the tourism sector in Jordan has been shelved as a result of the Arab Spring.

“Nobody would stop an investment this year. Cost now is low due to the current economic crisis, and the government is very responsive to the sector’s demands and has put at investors’ disposal all possible facilities,” Nazzal told The Jordan Times.

The Arab tourism sector showed large losses this year due to the unrest in the region, experts said on Thursday.

In his remarks at the opening session of the event, Bandar Ben Fahd Al Fahaid, president of the Arab Tourism Organisation (ATO), said the sector’s losses due to the incidents taking place in the region reached $7 billion this year.

To protect investments in the sector from political risks and unrest, ATO has signed an agreement with the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit, according to Fahaid.

Tourism ministers of 16 Arab countries attended the conference, along with experts and sector leaders.

Also Thursday, the tourism ministry signed two cooperation agreements with Kuwait and Bahrain.

As per the agreements, countries will exchange information and statistics and expertise in the tourism sector and facilitate investment opportunities.

On the sidelines of the conference, Bakhit discussed with Chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities Prince Sultan Ben Salman Ben Abdul Aziz Al Saud means to enhance tourism cooperation. Prince Sultan voiced his country’s willingness to enhance its relations with Jordan in all spheres, saying: “Saudis feel at home when visiting the Kingdom.”