Data shows Jordan’s tourism sector is recovering

The Baptism Site on the eastern bank of the Jordan River. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The Baptism Site on the eastern bank of the Jordan River. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
AMMAN — Jordan’s tourism sector is recovering, based on airline ticket sales and hotel occupancy rates in the first quarter of 2022, Director-General of the Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) Abdul Razzaq Arabiyat said, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra.اضافة اعلان

A press statement Thursday said the tourism sector is the “main” catalyst of many activities and businesses and a “major” source of hard currency.

Arabiyat said the rate of hotel room reservations in the rose-red city of Petra is forecast to reach 100 percent between next September and November.

Speaking at a media forum organized by the Center for Defending the Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ), Arabiyat said JTB’s budget is JD71 million. He said that Jordan enjoys climatic diversity and availability of tourists and archaeological sites, foremost are Petra, Jerash, the Baptism Site, and the Dead Sea.

Arabiyat contended that religious tourism in Jordan is “important”, especially since Christianity’s roots lie in Jordan, and the Kingdom has key attractions, including the Baptism Site. He stressed that the lack of accommodation, pit stops, proper sanitation facilities, and souvenir shops, in addition to the expensive entry tickets to the attractions, are reasons why these religious sites are not regularly visited.

He contended that any religious pilgrimage site can expect around 7 million visitors annually — a number that neither Jordan’s infrastructure nor its facilities can bear. “We will open the Baptism Site once this issue is addressed,” he said, adding that the visitor’s center had been completed and the service quality there is considered good.

Arabiyat pointed out that nobody bans religious tourism, but there are cultural, social, religious, and political considerations in Jordan must be taken into account.

He stressed that performing rituals at religious shrines is “prohibited and provocations on religious and social basis are not allowed”, in reference to Shiite Muslims, who once practiced religious rituals in southern Jordan.

Arabiyat said that while the private sector is able to run Jordan’s tourism sites than the public sector, but that investment is weak due to the volatility of investment-related legislation in the sector.

The most important challenge facing Jordan’s tourism sector is that 90 percent of tourists from Europe resort to low-cost travel and flights, he noted.

Tourists coming to Jordan pay a tax at the airport, estimated at JD40–50, he noted. He said that the government has decided to cancel landing taxes at Marka International Airport (MIA) and Aqaba King Hussein International Airport, in support of tourism. He said the government is contemplating plans to license MIA as an international airport.

On steps to support the tourism sectors, he said the tax has been reduced from 16 to 8 percent, and that the Cabinet will treat any tourist enterprise, regardless of its location or type, as a business in Jordan’s development zones, in terms of exemptions.

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