Jordan tourism on recovery path

The Monastery is lit by candles for visitors participating in the Petra by Night programme

THE best time to visit Jordan is right now, say experts and travel industry insiders.

According to Marwan Khoury, managing director of the Jordan Tourism Board (JTB), a full recovery is expected by the second half of the year.
The country is a safe destination that offers diverse and memorable experiences. Indeed, the JTB has been educating agents and the public alike that the historic Arab nation features, among other attractions, new luxury hotels, competitive prices and a host of natural attractions and sights .
The Kingdom has an area of approximately 60,000 sq  m and is noted for its archaeological importance and its cultural heritage in places like Petra.  Travellers from across the Middle East and overseas are learning to see the ancient treasures of Jordan’s Nabatean Kingdom of Petra in a new light. Sending tourists on an unforgettable candle light journey into the dramatic, rock-carved city, the Petra by Night programme has become increasingly popular.
Several new hotels have been opened in the country recently and more are in the planning. Also, almost half the already existing hotels are in the four- and five-star category. This highlights the high-end holiday value of Jordan, and the JTB is working to raise awareness of the country’s many top-notch facilities.
Yet, the country also serves many niche tourist markets: it is also home to many Biblical sites, making it an important multi-faith destination. Over the past few years, Jordan has been emphasising eco-tourism within the country and has several trekking, hiking and adventure options for the outdoorsy tourist. The Kingdom has a strong appeal for the traveller looking for   restorative beauty  with its Dead Sea spa products, now in department stores around the world. Last but not the least, the question uppermost in agents’ minds,  is how much current affairs in the Middle East and around the world have affected tourism to the country. While tourist numbers showed a declined in the post 9/11 and the Iraq-War period, the renewed stability in the region has seen a rise in bookings and the predictions for 2004 are good, especially since the market has now realised that Jordan is in fact a safe and secure country that is among the most hospitable in the region.
To that end, the JTB has begun a training scheme for agents to promote Jordan to the travel trade in Europe. For the Arab market, the JTB is positioning Jordan as the ideal family destination for Arab travellers, and offers a wealth of incentives unique to the Arab world. The Kingdom is in the midst of an aggressive marketing and PR programme across the Arab world, while also working on more product diversification to enter niche markets, and penetrate new geographic markets.