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Preserving Jordan’s historical and cultural assets
December 2008 1375

Jordan’s Tourism sector is still strong despite the political turmoil and most recently, the economic turmoil. In 2007, the tourism sector accounted for 12 per cent of GDP, forming one of the key pillars of the Kingdom’s economy. Jordan Tourism Board’s managing director, NAYEF AL-FAYEZ speaks to TTN’s Maysa Zureikat

The government last year launched a $70 million campaign to restore various cities in Jordan. What is the result?
The government launched the Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Urban Development Project (CHTUDP) to assist it in strengthening its very important tourism industry, to preserve Jordan’s rich cultural heritage assets, and to tackle some of its more urgent developmental problems. The said project would support the government’s National Agenda and be a core part of its National Tourism Development Strategy launched in 2004.
The project is an ongoing one which began in January 2007 with an estimated implementation period is five years (to end in December 2011). The total project cost is estimated at around $ 71.08 million. The bank would provide a loan of about $ 56 million.
The initiative focuses on five key historically and culturally important secondary cities: Jerash, Karak, Madaba, Salt and Ajloun; and its aim is to help diversify Jordan’s tourism product and deepen its industry. Further, it will harness some of the kingdom’s considerable cultural and historical assets for the difficult task of revitalising some of its secondary cities.
The primary objective of the project is to contribute to tourism development in these five key cities and thereby create the conditions for local economic development.  The secondary objective is to contribute to the consolidation of the tourism industry in Petra, Jordan’s premier tourism asset and destination.
So what is the JTB doing regarding the promotion of Petra?
For Petra, JTB considers it the Jewel in the crown of the country’s tourist sites. It is promoting this world wonder as the gate from which visitors can enter to enjoy an unparalleled experience. This includes a unique product diversity, and countless natural and historic treasures including natural wonders like Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea.
What are your visitor numbers from Arab nations?
The numbers of tourists from Arab countries has increased in comparison to 2007, reaching a total of 4,120,109 compared to 2007’s total of 3,959,594 visitors, marking a percentage increase of 4.1 per cent. The majority of people come from Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Palestine. The total number of visitors from the Gulf countries rose by 7.5 per cent (1,257,798 in 2008 compared to 1,170,271 in 2007).
Are Americans still returning in large numbers?
Yes they are and have even increased. Statistics show that this year’s numbers are 148,169 tourists compared to 138,655 last year with an increase of 6.9 per cent in 2007.

NOTE:  According to a report in the Jordan Times quoting Ministry of Tourism figures, hotel occupancy in the country rose by 12 per cent during the first nine months of this year, with a total of 1.773 million visitors compared to 1.595 million during the same period last year,.
The figures indicated that tourists spent a total of 4.043 million nights in hotels across the country between January and September, rising 6 per cent from 3.833 million nights in the same period of 2007. Most were spent in classified hotels in the capital, followed by Petra, the Dead Sea and Aqaba.
Amman hotels recorded an increase of 2 per cent (bednights) compared to the same period last year. Hotels in the tourist city of Petra posted a 24 per cent increase, while hotels at the Dead Sea and Aqaba saw an increase of 31 per cent and 3 per cent respectively.

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