Experts hold a positive outlook for tourism this summer

Tourists in Wadi Rum (Photo: Shutterstock)
AMMAN — The Dead Sea was declared a “safe tourist destination” last Thursday, after all workers in the area’s tourism sector received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. As other destinations follow, experts are expecting a gradual recovery of the industry and a strong summer season. اضافة اعلان

“We are doing everything we can to gradually return the tourism sector to what it looked like in 2019,” said President of the Jordan Hotels Association Abdul Hakeem Al Hindi in an interview with Jordan News. “We are gradually and carefully reopening the sector and I expect that by September we will have passed into a safe period.”

The impact of declaring the Dead Sea a safe zone has already begun to show, Hindi said. The occupancy rate in the area’s hotels rose to 60 percent following the announcement.

“We finished the Dead Sea tourism are completely,” Hindi explained, which includes around 2,350 people. “We began administering the second doses in Amman and this will take around two to three weeks.”

In addition to vaccinating the tourism sector, protocols by the government and the private sector are applied in hotels and related areas to ensure complete protection for tourists, he added.

“Today we are beginning to encourage tourism offices to bring tourists from European countries and Russia to Aqaba and Amman,” Hindi said. “We are even noticing that foreigners and those in the GCC are beginning to come here.”

The Jordan Tourism Board is developing a campaign to convey to tourists that the destinations in Jordan are safe and that strong health protocols are in place. As managing director of the Jordan Tourism Board Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat told Jordan News, building confidence in the sector is a priority.

“The main targets of the messaging are tourists from countries including Europe, GCC, the US, Russia,” explained Arabiyat. “Since the sector is being vaccinated, this adds confidence in the destination and helps a lot in marketing.”

The board is coordinating with the Ministry of Tourism, the Hotels Association and stakeholders in the sector to ensure that all areas relevant to the industry are safe and vaccinated.

“This will have a positive impact on the number of tourists who will arrive and go to hotels in the Golden Triangle — Petra, Wadi Rum, Aqaba — and also the Dead Sea and Amman,” said Arabiyat.

He explained that many airlines including EasyJet and RyanAir will reopen routes in the coming months, which will help bring these tourists in.

Once tourism is reactivated, a number of sectors across the Kingdom will also benefit, including hotels, restaurants, transportation, and others. This, the managing director explained, will also help reactivate a major source of income in the country.

“The main contributor of foreign currency in Jordan is tourism, and we lost that,” said Arabiyat. The tourism sector was equivalent to 12.5 percent of the gross domestic product in Jordan in 2018, according to the Tourism Ministry.

A major center for tourism in Jordan, the city of Aqaba, is among those implementing the vaccination campaign. “Around 90 percent of the tourism sector is vaccinated,” Commissioner for Tourism and Economic Affairs at the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority Sharhabeel Madi told Jordan News. “We are hoping that by June we will be done with vaccinating the city.”

Once the entire sector is vaccinated, they will publicly announce that the destination is safe for tourism. In addition to activating the sector, this will also generate increased economic activity across the city, Sharhabeel explained.

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