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Tourism sector expresses mixed react on resuming PCR test for arrivals

Safety of citizens is the priority — Tourism Ministry spokesperson

Jerash
Health authorities announced that all travelers to Jordan must present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to departure, regardless of their vaccination status. (Photo: Jordan Tourism Board)
AMMAN — Resuming mandatory PCR tests would reduce the numbers of tourists coming to Jordan and affect the coming Christmas’s and New Year’s season, tourism stakeholders agreed.اضافة اعلان

Following the surge in the number of COVID-19 infections in the Kingdom, concerned health authorities announced that all travelers to Jordan must present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to departure, regardless of their vaccination status.

Fully-vaccinated travelers from specific countries (a list of which can be found on the Jordan Tourism Board’s website) do not have to undergo an additional PCR test upon arrival.

From a tourism point of view, this announcement will negatively affect the Jordanian tourism industry, stakeholders said, as it will increase the cost of trips to and from the Kingdom.

President of Jordan Travel Agents Association Suhail Halaseh said that mandatory tests will increase prices of trips for tourists planning to visit the Kingdom during the New Year holidays.

Furthermore, costs of umra (lesser pilgrimage) will be increased by JD70, over and above the existing JD300 costs for travelers.

For outbound tourism, Jordanian travelers will have to pay for two tests, increasing the cost of their total trip to any country.

He called on reducing the price of PCR tests at the Queen Alia Airport as a move to mitigate the impact of the decision and attract tourists.
The Ministry of Interior told Jordan News that the decision is based on recommendations from health officials’ assessments.

Ministry of Tourism spokesperson Ahmed Rifai said that even if the decision will affect tourism, the government puts the safety and health of citizen as the top priority.

A source at the Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) said that there would be an impact on the costs of trip packages to Jordan; however, JTB’s operations come in line with the government’s decisions which serve the national interest.

Hani Massadeh, president of Tourist Guides Association, said that related measures to this surge in the number of cases are temporary and happened last year when Delta variant appeared.

Massadeh told Jordan News that when Delta emerged, there were similar measures and were cancelled when the number of cases decreased. That means there will be no long term effect on the Jordanian tourism.

“This is a global crisis that affected all countries; the point is how to mitigate the impact. Our responsibility as tourism sector is to commit to the preventive measures such as taking the vaccine, wear masks, and maintain social distancing,” Massadeh said.

“We all have to work on bringing back Jordan’s classification back to a safe country by complying with all the precautionary measures,” he added.

The pandemic has affected tourist guides more than any other sector, as guides are daily laborers who work only in the high seasons and do not have any sort of job security such social security or even health insurance, according to Massadeh.

He called on controlling prices of PCR tests at private laboratories across the Kingdom.

According to the UN World Tourism Organization, tourism is one of the world’s major economic sectors. It is the third-largest export category (after that of fuels and chemicals) and in 2019 accounted for 7 percent of global trade.

Tourism supports one in 10 jobs and provides livelihoods for many millions more in both developing and developed economies.

Tourism accounts for around 13 per cent of Jordan’s GDP, and employs more than 55,000 people.

In 2019, Petra, the Kingdom’s largest tourist attraction, celebrated its 1 millionth tourist for the first time in its history just months before the site was closed due to the outbreak of COVID-19. 

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