Jordan’s tourism revenues jumped 13 per cent year on year in 2007 despite the country witnessing a decline in Arab and Gulf Visitors.
According to numbers released by Jordan’s central bank, tourism revenues, which comprise 10 per cent of the kingdom's GDP, jumped by 13.4 per cent to nearly $2.11 billion during the first 11 months of 2007, compared to approximately $1.86 billion for the same period in 2006.
Revenue growth was achieved despite a sizeable slump in the number of Arab and Gulf tourists visiting the Kingdom, notably from Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Total arrivals fell from 3.17 million in 2006 to 3 million in 2007, according to Ministry of Tourism figures, while the number of Arab visitors slumped 7 per cent, representing a drop of more than one million.
Gulf and Arab tourists traditionally account for more than 50 per cent of total visitors according to the Jordan Tourism Board (JTB).
“We are very aware of the decrease in 2007 in the GCC market, but although we have a decrease in total number of tourists, we have a tremendous increase in tourism receipts in 2007,” said JTB communications manager Tohama Nabulsi.
He said the decrease in Arab visitors was offset by an increase in tourists from other regions with the Ministry of Tourism revealing that travellers from the EU grew by over 37 per cent during the first 11 months of 2007. Numbers from the Asia Pacific region grew by over 9 per cent in the same period while American arrivals were up by around 4 per cent.
In order to further boost tourism receipts, the government has launched a $70 million campaign to restore and beautify five of Jordan's historical cities, including Madaba, Kerak, Salt, Jerash and Ajloun, while last year the ancient city of Petra was named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
JTB managing director Nayef Al Fayez said the country was focusing on growing niche tourism sectors such as MICE, medical tourism, eco-tourism and religious tourism.