|14 July, 2016

JTB uses Pokémon mania to promote tourist attractions

The Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) has kicked off a competition encouraging people to play Pokémon Go at tourist sites

The Jordanian flag flutters in front of the Al Khazneh (Treasury) in the ancient city of Petra

The Jordanian flag flutters in front of the Al Khazneh (Treasury) in the ancient city of Petra

REUTERS/Steve Crisp
14 July 2016
Amman - The Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) has kicked off a competition encouraging people to play Pokémon Go at tourist sites, as Pokémon fever hits the Kingdom.  

Pokémon Go is an app that uses GPS and maps in mobile phones to let players roam streets and parks to catch virtual monsters, called Pokémon, as they "appear" in different areas.  

Pokémon Go players can win a two-day trip to Aqaba if they share photos of Pokémons in tourist sites like Petra on social media with the hashtag #PokeGoJordan, said Tohama Nabulsi, media and communications director at the JTB.

"We are trying to contact the developers [of the game] to launch a campaign to promote tourism in Jordan and the game at the same time," said Nabulsi. 

The JTB launched the competition after the game became a worldwide phenomenon, she told The Jordan Times.  

Michael Nazzal, the chairman of the Jordan Federation of Tourism Associations, encouraged gamers to come to Jordan to play, tweeting: "Pokémon is waiting for you in Jordan", adding that the game could attract younger tourists.  

The game, which was released by Nintendo on July 6, has attracted millions of people around the world, and young Jordanians are sharing their passion for Pokémon on Facebook. 

Players in Jordan are sharing hot spots for catching Pokémon on a Facebook page for the game's fans in the Kingdom, suggesting that Jabal Al Qalaa is a good hunting ground for the virtual monsters.  

Players are also organising hunting trips on Facebook.

Jordanian comedian Laith Abbadi said in a Snapchat video that the game offers Jordanians something to do, other than going to the cinema or smoking shisha. 

Player Anwar Shareef said he was wandering around Rainbow Street looking for Pokémon and was thrown out of a café while trying to catch one. 

"I was kicked out of a café with physical force because I wanted to hunt a Pokémon. Two men forced me to leave, but another café welcomed me to hunt Pokémon whenever I want," Shareef told The Jordan Times. 

 "I will forever be a customer at this [welcoming] café," the 29-year-old teacher noted.

Many restaurants and shops in Amman are luring customers by welcoming people in to hunt Pokémon. 

Some shops or restaurants could offer special Pokémon or power ups for players who enter, Abbadi suggested. 

Other social media users have expressed reservations about the game.

Some Facebook users raised privacy concerns, noting that the game is connected to GPS, and players take photos of places and people around them which are uploaded onto the game's servers. Others noted that players might have accidents if they are distracted by the game. 

At the University of Jordan, students are sharing places rich with Pokémon, like the main gate and the clock tower, on Facebook groups.

In one group, student Bashar Abu Salma relayed a story about a friend committed to chasing Pokémon. 

He wrote: "A classmate asked the professor if he could leave [a lecture], and after the lecture I asked why he left. He said 'I found a Pokémon and I had to leave before it disappeared'." 

© Jordan Times 2016

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