AMMAN — Jordan has over 15,000 archaeological sites that need relentless efforts for protection and renovation, Tourism Minister Makram Queisi said on Saturday.

During a session titled “Jordan as a global destination”, held as part of the “A Year of Modernisation” forum, Queisi said that Jordan has six sites registered on the World Heritage List.

The minster added that the World Tourism Organization (WTO) also declared Jordan a regional destination for medical tourism, where the organisation selected Umm Qais among the top 20 tourist villages in the world, along with selecting Madaba as the capital of Arab tourism 2022 and Irbid as the capital of Arab culture in 2022, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

He noted that agreements were signed with five low-cost airlines to attract tourists from 17 countries, 25 cities, and charter flights from nine countries, as well as having direct flights to Amman from 37 countries, 69 cities and 78 airports.

The minister said that the number of visitors to the Kingdom over the past seven months exceeded 3.7 million, with an estimated growth of 51 per cent compared with the same period last year, while the number of visitors ranged between 83 and 600 per cent.

Queisi added that tourist income over the past seven months exceeded JD3 billion, a rise of 50 per cent compared with the same period last year.

The minister also reviewed the number of visitors coming through low-cost airlines, reaching 282,000 over the past seven months, marking an estimated 75 per cent growth compared with 2022, indicating that the number of tickets sold as of the end of July stood at some 214,000, marking an estimated 93 per cent growth compared with 2022.

He also noted that the recently inaugurated Ajloun Cable Car project is a “unique and successful” tourism product.

The tourism sector currently employs 57,162 workers, the minister said, adding that “the plan is to incentivise Jordanian workers to stay in the tourism sector and not leave the country”.

He indicated that there are 1,400 tourist guides in Jordan. During the first half of 2023, 88 tourist guides were licensed, he said, explaining that “licensing depends on quality, not number”.

He emphasised that making Jordan a repeat travel destination is crucial for the sector’s success.

A total of 15 new hotels were opened in Jordan during the first half of this year, Queisi said.

According to the minister, only two hotels and 16 restaurants were closed in the first half of this year, while 65 new tourist restaurants opened.

Economist Hosam Ayesh told The Jordan Times that new hotels must be established in a way that is attractive and affordable for tourists.

The large number of hotels demonstrates Jordan’s focus on overnight tourism, Ayesh said, adding that the arrival of new hotels comes with additional job opportunities.

Also speaking during the event, Nayef Fayez, president of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority, said that some 1.5 million tourists visited Aqaba in the first half of 2023, marking a growth of 108 per cent compared with the same period of 2022.

© Copyright The Jordan Times. All rights reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (