AMMAN — The North American inbound travel market has been a great source of revenue for Jordan, which managed to establish itself as a “unique stand-alone tourism destination”, said President of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) Terry Dale.
Founded in 1972, USTOA is a voluntary trade association, representing the tour operator industry with members accounting for a “sizable portion” of the North American market, according to its website.
In an exclusive interview with The Jordan Times on Saturday, Dale noted that a recent survey conducted with the participation of the active members of the USTOA showed that Jordan made the list of the top 10 “hot” tourist destinations in 2023 and was identified as one of the top 10 emerging destinations that are forecast to “gain popularity” in 2023.
Representatives of USTOA member companies recently visited various tourist destinations in Jordan, including Wadi Rum, the Dead Sea, Petra, Jerash and Umm Qais, among others, according to Dale.
He noted that these visits were mostly navigated through the Meaningful Travel Map of Jordan “pioneered” by the Jordan Tourism Board (JTB).
This project, which was launched in 2018, enables tourists to “enrich” their trips with 12 stops at innovative social enterprises; “it aims to promote authentic and sustainable tourism experiences that profit local communities,” Malia Asfour, director of the Jordan Tourism Board North America, told The Jordan Times.
Dale stressed that USTOA is committed to “sustainable tourism and responsible travel practices” with most members integrating formal policies and metrics to measure the social and/or environmental impacts of provided services.
JTB Director General Abdulrazzaq Arabiyat noted that 880 sites highlighting local experiences are currently under evaluation to be integrated within the Meaningful Travel Map, which has “markedly” contributed to generating jobs in the Kingdom’s tourism sector.
“Jordan is blessed with a competitive edge among other countries through allowing visitors to enjoy diverse terrains and landscapes within the proximity of five hours,” he told The Jordan Times.
Jordan, represented by the Jordan Tourism Board North America (JTBNA), a division of JTB that aims to “position and market Jordan in North America”, has been a member of USTOA since 1998.
This cooperation aims to highlight Jordan’s ability to offer travellers “safe, diverse, personalised and well-rounded travel experiences” that introduce its history, culture, cuisine and people, Dale said.
He also pointed out that this type of tourism contributes to building long-term relationships with tourists and ensuring repeated visits.
USTOA brings in approximately 85 per cent of the tour operator business to Jordan, according to Dale, who said that revenue to Jordan in 2019 from the North American market reached $430 million.
“Although the cost of travel packages in 2022 increased by roughly 10 per cent due to inflation and changes in airfare and hotel rates, consumers weren’t deterred from coming to Jordan,” he added, noting that USTOA members report a worldwide recovery in sales of 87 per cent from 2019.
A JTBNA statement made available to The Jordan Times showed that 2022 witnessed “significant” rebound figures following the pandemic.
It stated that Jordan welcomed 160,000 US travellers, 31,300 Canadian travellers and 12,800 Mexican travellers, contributing $230 million, $48 million and $10 million, respectively, to the Kingdom’s national tourism receipts.
Last year, 32 per cent of visitors to Petra and 17 per cent of visitors to the Baptism Site were North American, according to JTBNA.
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