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Tourism stakeholders praise government plan to cancel restrictive measures

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A photo of closed cafes in downtown Amman due to COVID-19 preventative measures in 2020. (File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMNAN — Leaders of the tourism sector on Sunday commended the government’s intention to remove restrictive measures related to COVID-19, calling for a decision to be taken as soon as possible.اضافة اعلان

Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh said on Saturday that the government will gradually announce the end of the procedures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including reducing the number of daily tests, transitioning to a stage where we coexist with the virus and its variants, and removing restrictive measures on all sectors, especially tourism.

The premier had said that these measures, especially those related to the PCR tests, will facilitate tourism to the Kingdom.

State Minister for Media Affairs Faisal Shboul told Jordan News that during the last three days numbers of cases went down and the government is watching closely to see whether the decline will continue, and ease restrictions accordingly.

Over the coming two days, the concerned bodies will discuss several issues, including PCR tests and the vaccination status of visitors, Shboul said.

The percentage of hospitalization for COVID cases has dropped to 1.5 percent after having reached 4 percent three weeks ago.

Shuail Halaseh, president of Jordan Society of Tourism and Travel Agents, called for a speedy decision, pointing to the many Western countries that have already cancelled all restrictive measures, including PCR tests.

Halaseh also called for exempting those who leave the Kingdom and come back within 11 days from doing a test upon arrival if they had done one 72 hours before in the country they return from.

He suggested cancelling PCR upon arrival for tourists who did a test in their home countries or took two shots of the vaccine.

Hani Massadeh, president of Jordan Tourists Guides Association, praised the PM’s announcement, describing it as “a step in right direction”.

Massadeh told Jordan News that tourism is the most affected of all sectors and tourist guides are the most affected group in the sector, as they have no assets like other stakeholders and they work as day laborers.

Massadeh called for drafting a 2-year plan to deal with the repercussions of the crisis on tourists guides, as part of the National Plan for Tourism 2022–2025.

He asked for the reduction of installments to repay the zero-interest loans that were granted to tourist guides during the crisis, for postponing repayments, and for including 200 tourist guides in the health insurance scheme.

Halaseh and Massadeh called for extending the exemption of licence fees paid to the Tourism Ministry and the Jordan Tourism Board.

Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jordan closed all tourist sites in March 2020 and reopened them few moths later, but tourist turnout stayed at minimum level ever since, except for October and November 2021, when it picked up, only to plummet again after the emergence of the Omicron mutant.

According to official figures, tourism makes up around 14 percent of the Kingdom’s GDP and employs 55,000 Jordanians directly.

In 2019, Jordan’s largest tourist site, the rose-red city of Petra, celebrated its 1 millionth tourist for the first time in its history.

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