Revamped shopping district to bring in more visitors

Amman’s famous Al Sweifieh shopping district is gearing up to offer more than ever, reports MAYSA ZUREIKAT

In line with Jordan’s King Abdullah Bin Hussein’s vision to enhance Jordan's tourism, plans are falling in place in preparation for the upcoming summer season, with plans to attract more Arab tourists.
To that end, the Jordan Tourism Board has launched a new advertising and media campaign targeting Arab visitors, who comprise 60 per cent of inbound tourist arriving in Jordan.
The Arabic market is considered among the major tourism markets for Jordan as the number of Arabic tourists arriving to the country reached 4.9 million visitor last year, as opposed to 4.4 million tourists in 2005.
The JTB is running a campaign in the GCC countries mainly in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait. The expected increase in incoming tourism form the Arabic countries is 10 per cent compared to the same period in 2006, sources said.
Also part of promoting Jordan as a tourism destination was a Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (MOTA) stand at Dubai's ATM, along with a number of travel and tourism companies.
According to the Jordan Inbound Tour Operators Organization (JITOA) chairman Awni Kawar, “Participating in Dubai's ATM is instrumental was offering the Jordanian product to the GCC market at a time when all tourists are picking their summer destinations.” Also helping with the campaign are local hotels who have been preparing special summer packages for the GCC tourists, which, in Kawar's view, is a very important step for attracting more Arab tourists.
Earlier, King Abdullah stressed on the need for all tourism bodies to adopt a comprehensive plan for the upcoming tourism season, involving awareness programs, to help make the season a success.  The King also stressed on the importance if facilitating procedures for the kingdom’s visitors, which the current comprehensive plan addresses. 
Moreover, among efforts to enhance tourism this summer are activities along Amman’s Salem Al Qudah Street and the Al Wikalat Street, situated in Al Sweifieh, one of the city's most famous fashion and shopping districts with a number of shops, cafes and restaurants, and is part of a whole strategy for this area.
The project, to be finished mid-June, is expected to cost JD650,000 ($917,431) and is part of a JD1.8 million project which aims to develop the city of Amman by enhancing parts of it including part of Amman's old Jabal Amman districts and downtown. For the Al Sweifieh project, work undertaken includes developing the infrastructure, platforms and planting trees and developing parks and enhancing the look and appear of signage and including a detailed street map and having chairs and benches in attempts to offer the city a facelift.
According to Zaid Goussous, a member of the joint committee between the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) and the MOTA, “Al Wikalat street will be the beginning of a series of similar streets to be transformed to a pedestrian venue. Upon its completion, the street will be turned into a pedestrian area and will include a property designated area for cafes and musical performances. This will provide an active venue for locals as well as Arab and International tourists to have an with shopping, food and music in the same place, which will consequently increase tourism revenues and boost both the economy as well as the image of the city as a tourism destination.”
Other streets are also set to be developed, whiled the downtown Old Amman area will be also enlivened to become a tourism hub especially around the Hashemite plaza, just in front the Roman theatre.