AMMAN — Amendments to a by-law that enable 100 per cent investments by non-Jordanians in the tourism sector have raised concerns among stakeholders.
The Jordan Society of Tourism and Travel Agents (JSTA) had different demands regarding the investment matter and other topics, and had planned a sit-in for Wednesday which was called off after reaching an agreement with the Tourism Ministry on Tuesday.
The demands included reconsidering the by-law governing non-Jordanians' investment in the sector, which JSTA President Mohammad Samih labelled as a "danger to agencies and tourism in the Kingdom".
The society also called for amending the “confusing” tourism transportation by-law that came into effect in April, which set an operational age of 12 years for big tourist buses and 10 years for medium and mini ones, Samih said.
The JSTA president said the Tourism Ministry agreed to study the by-law again and gave some by-laws a trial period, vowing to fix any errors in the amendments.
The third JSTA demand targeted the Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) by-law, which Samih said caused a commotion recently and they discussed it with Tourism Minister Majd Shweikeh during Tuesday's meeting, agreeing to enact it for a short while to find out the exact changes that need to be made to it and work on them.
He added that some of the articles in the by-law were amended nonetheless, which included having two members of the JSTA’s board of directors present on the tourism board, which he said will help foster better partnership between the association, the JTB and the ministry as well.
The JSTA has 153 tourism agencies, each of which contribute JD2,000 annually to the JTB for the purpose of investing in and promoting tourism in the Kingdom, Samih said, noting that other entities have become part of the JTB and do not contribute financially whatsoever, which the association believes is a matter that requires reconsideration as well regarding who can be partners and members of the JTB.
When asked how involved the JSTA was in drafting the three by-laws, he said that there was “barely any involvement”, hoping that the association will be viewed as a partner and will be involved more in the ministry and board's future decisions, especially since it has a lot of experience to offer about different markets in different countries.
Samih said that he hopes the partnership will grow strong enough among all entities in the sector in a way that benefits local and foreign tourists, tourism agencies and the sector as a whole. He said that there is no need for escalatory measures since discussions are ongoing and progress is being made.
Last week, the Jordan Tourism Guides Association (JTGA) held a sit-in, voicing demands of its own, which included increasing cooperation and partnership with the Tourism Ministry and the JTB.
After the sit-in, JTGA President Raed Abdelhaq, at the time, said that the ministry agreed to discuss the list of demands and study them in detail, issuing a letter on the matter and sharing it with the guides through the ministry’s secretary general.