AMMAN — Exploring various aspects of tourism in Jordan, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Makram Al Qaisi on Tuesday said that the tourism sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reached 14.6 per cent in 2023.

“In the wake of the current crisis, there have been adverse consequences on the overall economy…the tourism industry is among the most vulnerable sectors to the hardships of crises, however Jordan’s tourism industry was and still is a flexible and resilient sector.”

During a joint ministerial meeting at the Government Communications Ministry headquarters, the tourism minister and Minister of Government Communications Muhannad Mubaidin addressed the discourse of tourism during times of crises.

The meeting comes as part of the Government Communication Forum organised by the Ministry of Government Communication, which serves as a platform for officials and experts to discuss public issues and topics of general interest.

Since the beginning of the war on Gaza on October 7, the tourism minister said that the ministry has adopted a methodology to deal with crises, where it has set up periodic meetings with relevant stakeholders, and bolstered security presence at tourist and archaeological sites, in addition to activating a 24-hour operations room.

In the current context, reality holds multiple challenges, Qaisi noted.

“Latest industry figures would have reached unprecedented levels had the current crisis not occurred,” he said.

According to Qaisi, 5.937 million people visited Jordan since the beginning of 2023 and tourism income reached JD4,894.1 billion during the same period.

Regarding the ministry’s efforts in times of crises, Qaisi highlighted a committee chaired by the tourism ministry’s secretary-general which is composed of both public and private sectors together with local security authorities, has been formed in order to monitor the condition of the tourism industry.

Another committee chaired by the tourism ministry’s secretary-general, has been established to follow up on the impact of the current war on the tourism sector’s financial status.

The committee includes: the Tourism Ministry, Jordan Tourism Board, the Central Bank of Jordan, Association of Banks in Jordan, the Social Security Corporation, the Employment and Development Fund.

The fallout is felt in the local tourism industry, said Qaisi who forecasted that in case the number of visitors and bookings continues to decline by 60 per cent, losses would be near JD 180-JD 200 million each month.

However, he said that current circumstances provided an opportunity to focus more on conservation and restoration work in major tourist destinations that are usually crowded.

“In some days the number of visitors [in various tourist destinations] has dropped by 80-90 per cent.”

The minister elaborated that the ministry is committed to stimulating the sector’s investment environment, as well as expanding into new markets including the Chinese, Russian and African markets.

Among the key strategic projects the ministry is currently working on is the centre for the preservation of artifacts in Nuweiges, Bait Faleh Al Hamad in Salt, the tourist routes project and the regional hub for conservation and restoration in Jarash.

“In Jordan, there are over 300,000 artifacts which are stored in warehouses affiliated with the Department of Antiquities.”

The share of tourism-related establishments that closed during the third quarter of 2023, the minister said, while 12 tourist offices, 21 restaurants closed their doors for good.

Moreover, figures have shown that 73 tourist offices and 96 restaurants have opened during the same period.

The minister noted that the number of people employed in the tourism sector in the Kingdom is approximately 58,000.

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