Luring Arab tourists

Historic Petra is a must-see destination.

Jordan is targeting the Arab world, particularly tourists from the Gulf, to overcome setbacks after the events of September last year.

"Tourism from the Gulf has increased 16 per cent from January-August as compared to last year," Mazen Talhouni, area manager, Arabian markets, Jordan Tourism Board, said.

Bahrain topped the Gulf market with 42 per cent, followed by UAE with 37 per cent, Kuwait with 36 per cent and Oman with 30 per cent for the January-August period, he said.

"We have launched a major promotional and awareness campaign to boost tourism in Jordan," Talhouni said.

"We also offer health and eco tourism for visitors other than our historical significance.

"We have many tourists from Yemen and Libya who come for medical treatment to Jordan. They also visit the various spas we have on offer.

"We also have various new properties coming up in Petra, Dead Sea, Amman and Aqaba which will further strengthen our tourism industry and reassure our visitors."

Jordan offers dramatic contrasts to visitors with its varied climate and diverse geography which includes mountains, fertile valleys, desert and the famous Dead Sea.

From the haunting Wadi Rum and teeming Amman to historic Petra and the healing Dead Sea, the kingdom is a destination with an enduring appeal to tourists world over.

History, culture, religion, nature, beaches and adventure Ñ there is something to please everyone in Jordan.

The country is also conveniently located at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and Middle East and the national carrier, Royal Jordanian, provides easy access to the kingdom from most parts of the world.

Several major international hotel chains as well as other tourist industry operators such as car hire firms offer international quality facilities in the kingdom.

And despite the setbacks resulting from the aftermath of September 11, the ongoing Middle East crisis and the looming war clouds over Iraq, Jordan's neighbour, the local travel industry remains committed to growth.

The Government through the tourism ministry and the Jordan Tourism Board is doing all it can to promote the sector.

Economic reforms including privatisation of state-owned enterprises initiated by King Abdullah II as well as Jordan's entry, in January 2000, into the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are seen as a shot-in-the-arm to the industry.