Awaiting more planes

fahed khkitan
Fahed khitan (Photo: Jordan News)
Following a months-long suspension, the first tourist plane arrived in Aqaba two days ago. The recording of one COVID-19 positive case among the visiting Bulgarian tourists will not hinder flight plans targeting the “Golden Triangle,” (Aqaba, Petra, and Wadi Rum) of southern Jordan.اضافة اعلان

Informed sources told Al Ghad daily that no less than six planes will arrive in Aqaba within days, carrying hundreds of tourists of Russian and other nationalities.

Finally, the tourism sector takes a breath, en route to its former state. It will not happen overnight, but the coming weeks will be critical for gradually regaining the former momentum.

Before this damned pandemic struck the world, the Jordanian tourism sector was souring at record highs. Before the crisis, the enchanting Petra celebrated its millionth visitor, while tourist facilities and hotels in Aqaba and Petra registered strong bookings, and new hotel projects were in a race with time to secure more rooms in Wadi Musa and Aqaba. Meanwhile, Wadi Rum was impressing thousands across the world, becoming a pilgrimage site for those of various nationalities and a destination for film producers.

Everything was seeing unprecedented prosperity; the tourism sector was the top job creator in the country, as well as one of the key engines for development and economic growth.

But hopes were shattered with the arrival of the virus, and tourism workers swallowed the bitter truth of the tourism sector being the pandemic’s first and biggest loser, as well as the last to recover.

But it seems like the projections were gloomier than the actual outcomes, as tourism sectors across the world are preparing to rejuvenate, albeit slowly, following the wide-reaching rollout of vaccination campaigns across the Europe, the US, and Asia.

Countries that have well-executed inoculation programs, and adhere to strict health protocols in travel, flying, and residence, can achieve gains on the tourism front.

The government has taken note of this variable, launching a campaign recently to vaccinate the tourism workforce in the “Golden Triangle,” and imposing measures on arrivals that ensure containment of any positive cases among tourists before they access the southern region.

These measures must be applied strictly and accurately, and, at the same time, campaigns to attract tourists must be intensified to prevent another setback for the sector.

We cannot wait for a conclusive end to the pandemic before we start reenergizing tourism activity, and no country is planning to do so. There is a calculated margin for risk that ensures minimum health losses and allows for the continuation of tourist inflow.

The fate of many sectors hinges on oversees tourism, key among which is the transport and supply sectors, not to mention that tourism is a source of hard currency.

Tens of thousands of tourism workers are at the end of their rope, but the unique advantage of this sector is that it is quick to recover should activity gradually return. Tour guides can return to work quickly and achieve instant returns, and so can travel agencies, restaurants, and hotels.

The return of foreign tourism activity in itself gives hope to citizens, as well as a feeling that life is getting back to normal.

Some estimations that are credible to an extent suggest that months of closure across the world and a drop in spending rates will push millions to the travel and tourism market once a small window is opened, which would lead to higher spending of savings that could not reach markets due to the pandemic.

We must take advantage of this spree and excess cash, and organize international marketing campaigns to attract the largest number of tourists possible, and work hard to achieve new records in terms of foreign tourism.

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