Tourism in Jordan has had its fair share of ups and downs in 2012. While both are reflections of the kingdom’s growing market, the uncertainty in the region have had its impact on visitor confidence.
The Hashemite Kingdom is now ploughing ahead with its 25-year master plan for sector development and government figures report a 15.3 per cent increase in 2012 tourism receipts on 2011 figures, adding $3.47 billion to the economy.
Dr. Abed Al-Razzaq Arabiyat, managing director of the Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) said, “The regional political circumstances were a major reason for the decline in tourist numbers to Jordan in 2012. A big part of it was that many travellers booked joint tours to Jordan with neighbouring countries, so they largely cancelled their entire trips rather than travelling to Jordan alone.”
According to the Ministry of Tourism, the total number of visitors to the country fell by 7.3 per cent in 2012, to 6,314,250, compared to 6,812,426 in 2011, however 4,162,367 overnight tourists were recorded in 2012, up a healthy 5.1 per cent from 3,959,643 in 2011.
Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels’ EMEA Q3 2012 quarterly newsletter reported that hotels in Jordan achieved the best trading results in the Middle East, primarily due to an 18.1 per cent increase in occupancy. Amman was the best performing city in the Middle East and Africa region for the same period, with 30.4 per cent RevPAR growth.
2014 is set to be a banner year for openings, with a number of high profile hospitality names making their market debut. Leisure demand, thanks to the country’s rich cultural heritage, remains the key tourism driver and one of the key elements of the Kingdom’s tourism master plan is development in and around the Dead Sea and Aqaba. A number of hotels are to open in 2014/15, including the Westin Aqaba Harbour Resort & Spa, Starwood’s Luxury Collection Al Manara Hotel and the JW Marriott Aqaba Hotel & Spa, along with the headline grabbing $1.5 billion Red Sea Astrarium – a Star Trek-themed amusement park.
In a bid to maximise its visitor numbers and revenue to meet this new supply they have been penetrating new source markets like Taiwan, China, Korea, Japan, Australia, Scandinavia and Turkey in a bid to attract visitors.
Other tourism initiatives include targeting specific segments in the religious tourism sector in Italy, the US, UK, Russia, Greece, and Poland, targeting specific segments in the medical tourism in UK, Germany, Austria, Russia and the Arab countries, strengthening the presence of Jordan in the markets such as Brazil and Australia through, strengthening JTB’s online presence with enriched content and producing new publications and promotional materials showing the identity of Jordan to the world during 2013, in 11 languages.
He further added, “JTB expanded its e-marketing efforts across several platforms including social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Trip Advisor, Flickr, and our VisitJordan blog. We launched a dedicated microsite for families showcasing all the activities families can enjoy in Jordan. We organised many press trips that included both traditional and online media with emphasis on bloggers because they can share their opinions immediately and in a non-traditional way.”
“Moreover, we created and designed a brochure that included a list of ‘99 things to do in Amman’ with a detailed map of Amman to increase the length of stay of visitors to experience the multi-cultural and vibrant city.”
“Looking ahead for 2013, we believe it will be a promising year. We are proud with 2012 numbers despite the situation of the region. The work the Jordan Tourism Board did in 2012 will reflect positively on 2013. We will be concentrating on new markets such as Asia and Latin America. In the well established markets we will be focusing on consumer activities,” he concluded.
By Maysa Zureikat