JORDAN’S tourism sector witnessed a record number of arrivals and spending for the third quarter of 2010. The latest Central Bank and Ministry of Tourism statistics showed the number of overnight tourists visiting between January and September had reached 3.56 million, a 23.4 per cent increase over the same period in 2009. Tourism receipts for the same period reached JD1.88 billion ($2.65 billion), up more than 20 per cent on 2009.
A spokesperson at Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) described the figures as yet another landmark in Jordanian tourism. He said the numbers have, by far, outperformed 2008, which was the best tourism year ever in Jordan.
Jordan’s unique tourism offerings were a key driver behind the Kingdom’s success in avoiding the negative impact of the global economic crisis in 2009.
He said JTB saw two main threats to tourism growth: declining traveller numbers and spending as a result of the global economic crisis and the unexpected cut in the board’s budget.
“However, it was a challenge that we had to face with a great deal of planning and operational flexibility and with tremendous support from Jordan’s solid reputation as a unique tourist destination,” he added.
The third quarter figures showed a cross-the-board visitor number increase from all regions and countries. Asia took the lion’s share in terms of percentage rise with South Asia going up 39.8 per cent and East Asia and the Pacific increasing by 25.4 per cent. However, Arab countries brought in the most visitors with 1.7 million.
The rise in European tourists was also impressive, with a total of more than 532,000. French tourists came first with almost 61,000 (a rise of 67.5 per cent over 2009), the British were second with 52,000 (up 24.5 per cent), Italy was third with 43,320 (up 36.6 per cent), Germany fourth with 36,850 (up 26.2 per cent) and Spain fifth with 33,300 (up 59.7 per cent).
There were 125,424 overnight visitors from the US representing an increase of more than five per cent on the same period in 2009, while Canadians totalled more than 16,000, a rise of almost 19 per cent.
Petra remained the jewel in the crown of Jordan’s touristic sites attracting more than 670,000 visitors in the first nine months of 2010, a rise of 30 per cent. Wadi Rum saw the largest growth in numbers with a jump of 63.6 per cent to more than 189,300 people.
Almost 291,000 visited Jerash (a rise of 23 per cent), while 281,500 visited Mount Nebo (a rise of 42 per cent) with most of those making their way to see Madaba’s map. They totalled 267,120 (a rise of 48.4 per cent). The baptism site, which constitutes the start of the pilgrimage trail, witnessed a 20 per cent increase in visitors and pilgrims which were expected to rise further as 2010 came to a close.
The announcement of the new tourism figures came as JTB’s general assembly approved its marketing plans for 2011, which also provided an overview of the board’s strategy to boost tourism with a number of priority actions including the niche positioning of Jordan, utilising information technology to reach target audiences and building equity into Jordan’s image.
JTB had earlier said it was exploring new markets including China, Japan and Brazil to build on the successes of the past few years. It said it was working to minimise, if not end, the seasonal patterns of tourist arrivals and establish Jordan as an all-year-round destination.
By Maysa Zureikat
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