All together now for the Dead Sea

Three hotels around the Dead Sea are joining hands to market the region as a wellness and MICE destination, reports KEITH J FERNANDEZ

IN an unprecedented move for the private sector in the Middle East, several of Jordan’s top hotels around the Dead Sea are getting together to promote the Dead Sea as a premium medical and wellness events destination, TTN has learnt.

“It’s an effort to create a destination within a destination,” Jan G Heesbeen, country director of sales and marketing for the Marriott in Jordan, told TTN at World Travel Market in London last month. “The Dead Sea is the oldest spa in the world, and we will market it as the leisure destination that has meeting space,” Heesbeen said.
“We want to present ourselves as one destination, not as individual entities. So it’s not about competition or fixing rates – we want to work together to bring in business for everyone,” says Bruno Huber, general manager of the Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea and regional manager for the brand in Jordan, “We are targeting two markets: the international MICE business, to whom we will be able to offer 1000 rooms once the Kempinski is finished, and the wellness market.” The latter, of course, will be attracted by the Dead Sea’s links to Cleopatra and the Queen of Sheba, both of whom bathed there.
The Jordan Valley Marriott Resort & Spa, Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea and the Kempinski Hotel Ishtar properties in the country will work in concert with the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre to target the conference and meetings business, as well as bringing other hotels and travel services providers to the project.
For the first year, the costs will be borne by the hotels, says Heesbeen. Once their association is up and running, they will make a plea for government support.
However, Jordan’s outgoing Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Munir Y Nassar, told TTN he is giving the initiative all his support.
Already, says Heesbeen, the group is bidding to host various conferences and events, including a top-level international neurology conference, but a lot of initial work is about awareness and education of the Dead Sea as a destination. “The focus is on driving traffic – together. If it rains, we will all get wet, but we’ll do it together.”