Jordan, August 27, 2017
‘Unified’ action urged to boost tourism sector

Tourism officials on Thursday called for unified efforts to achieve the goals set for the tourism sector in Jordan.

The Jordan Inbound Tour Operators Association (JITOA) organised a meeting in cooperation with Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) to bring together all tourism actors.

JITOA Chairperson Ghada Najjar said the national carrier has a very important role in boosting and promoting tourism in Jordan, adding that the efforts of the carrier should be “consistent” and in cooperation with the sector’s actors.

Executive Director at JITOA Lina Khaled said that unifying efforts include focusing on the transit passengers and the insufficient support provided to the national carrier.

She added that this results in having “uncompetitive rates and a loss of a big pool of potential business to neighbouring countries that offer much better airline access and rates”.

Khaled added that there is “weak coordination” in the marketing strategies, which has a negative impact on the reach out to the right target market.

She said Jordan is currently considered as a “niche destination” offering good quality services compared to neighbouring countries, in addition to a varied and quality cuisine and a safe environment. She noted that most of the hotels are either international 5-star franchise or 3-star local hotels, and that the language barrier is minimal.

On the other hand, the taxes and prices are “among the highest in the region”, Khaled said.

In 2015, she added, the total number of tourists amounted to 2,737,964, with 2,106,833 staying overnight and 631,131 being same-day visitors. A year later, the number of tourists reached 2,646,144, with around 2,127,247 overnight stay-visitors and 518,897 of same-day tourists.

In 2017, the number increased to 2,896,631, with 2,347,576 overnight visitors and 549,054 same-day visitors.

As for Petra’s tourists, the number went from 253,095 visitors in 2016, to 238,281 tourists a year later, and going back up to 330,149 in 2017, the director noted.

The top nationality that visited the Kingdom in 2017 was American with 103,047 visitors, Palestinians came in second place with 73,989 visitors, Indians took the third place with around 41,204 visitors, British with 39,059 visitors, and China in fifth place with 32,900 tourists, she said.

As for Petra’s top nationality visitors, the UK topped the list with 18,315 visitors this year, followed by the US with 17,937, then France with 15,962. Spain and Italy followed with respectively 15,177 and 13,378 visitors, she noted.

CEO of the Royal Jordanian Stefan Pichler said the national carrier is working on a new strategy for Jordan over the next five years, adding that the implementation will start by the end of this year.

The strategy includes restructuring and organising human resources, focusing on the market in the region, reaching out to new markets such as the high-yielding Scandinavian markets, and offering new flights from Aqaba’s airport.

Issa Gammoh, Tourism Ministry’s secretary general, said the ministry fully supports all efforts exerted to boost tourism rates.

According to the WEF conference, held in Jordan earlier this year, Jordan used to rank 62th in air track transport infrastructure, Gammoh said at the meeting, adding that it improved to take the 32th place worldwide in 2016.

“We rank among 50 countries in the world in air transport and infrastructure,” he noted.

“Despite the challenges that the air transport sector in Jordan is facing, I believe there is an absence of information available for us on the real status of challenges,” the secretary general added.

Tourism officials agreed to set goals for the upcoming period that include: identifying which markets are being lost, agreeing on the top-priority markets with high yield, having the Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) support seats on daily flights in low selling dates in cooperation with RJ and hotels.

The participants also said they would create a marketing committee that includes entities from the tourism’s private sector, in Petra, Aqaba and Amman to study the Scandinavian market in collaboration with the JTB and the private sector.

jordantimes