22 March, 2016

Tourism development continues despite regional turmoil -- minister

AMMAN -- Despite the impact of regional turmoil on the Kingdom's tourism sector, plans are still under way to develop it, while investments have not stopped over the past five years, according to Tourism Minister Nayef Al Fayez.

22 March 2016
AMMAN -- Despite the impact of regional turmoil on the Kingdom's tourism sector, plans are still under way to develop it, while investments have not stopped over the past five years, according to Tourism Minister Nayef Al Fayez.

"The tourism industry's development has not stopped," Fayez told The Jordan Times in an interview on Sunday, acknowledging that the regional turmoil has taken its toll on the sector since the Syrian crisis started five years ago. 

This development, he said, did not help achieve the indicators of the (2010-2015) National Tourism Strategy, but helped reduce the projected regression in the number of tourists and the sector's revenues.

The minister said the five-year strategy was aimed at increasing tourism receipts to JD4.2 billion in 2015. 

This target could not be achieved due to the conditions surrounding Jordan and because of other reasons related to the impact of the economic crisis on some European countries and the US, leading to reducing the number of arrivals from these countries.

Sector revenues by the end of 2015 stood at JD2.9 billion, said Fayez, noting that the measures adopted last year and the government's support to the sector helped alleviate the impact of regional crises on tourism.

The Cabinet decided last year to increase the budget of the Jordan Tourism Board to enable it to promote the Kingdom's tourist attractions in regional and international markets.

Campaigns launched last year included television and radio commercials, in addition to advertisements on billboards, taxis and railway stations, in countries such as France, Germany and the UK.

The minister explained that expectations at the beginning of 2015 were too low and "we expected a JD550 million drop in revenues compared to a year earlier".

However, due to the government's support and intensified campaigns, the drop stood at JD220 million, compared to 2014, when tourism revenues were JD3.1 billion, according to Fayez.

As for tourist arrivals, the minister said, the number of overnight visitors has not witnessed a huge drop in 2015, compared to 2009, when tourism was "doing well".

He noted that 3.8 million overnight tourists visited Jordan last year compared to 3.9 million in 2009.

The drop was more pronounced in the number of one-day arrivals, according to Fayez, who noted that they decreased to 1 million in 2015, compared to 2009, when 3.3 million same day tourists visited the country.

Meanwhile, the minister announced that a committee has been recently formed to draft a new tourism strategy.

The panel, which includes representatives from the private sector, will draft the strategy taking into consideration regional challenges, and it will be in line with the 2025 vision.

© Jordan Times 2016