Beware a fresh blow to tourism

Makram Tarawneh
Makram Ahmad Al-Tarawneh (Photo: JNews)
The government says that it seeks to kill two birds with its decision to allow only those who have been vaccinated into the Golden Triangle: Aqaba, Petra, and Wadi Rum. The first is encouraging people to register to take the vaccine and the other to promote internal tourism. اضافة اعلان

There is no harm in acknowledging that Jordanians are feeling bored because of the complete and partial lockdowns, imposed under the pretext of fighting the spread of the virus. People badly need any solution that frees them from their big prison, and all want a safe summer. Nevertheless, we cannot deny that the tourism sector has been suffering since the outbreak of the pandemic and numerous establishments have gone out of business due to the dwindling internal tourism and complete absence on inbound tourism. Now, does the government plan achieve any of the said goals?

To start with, it is apparent that the government has overlooked a crucial aspect of the issue, namely, that Jordan has lost its competitive edge in tourism, whether internal or inbound. Touristic establishments, such as hotels and spas, are no more competitive due to the unreasonable prices of their services, when compared to similar facilities in the neighborhood, such as Sharm El-Sheikh and Istanbul, where the difference in the accommodation and services is stunning. We can spend there way less than what we have to pay in the south of Jordan. So how will the government handle this dilemma? Does it have a clear plan to solve it?

Another side of this difficult problem is the touristic sites’ lack of the minimum requirements of infrastructure, and if they were in place, they would be old and worn out, discouraging Jordanians from using facilities. Regarding incoming tourism, does the government have programs that are attractive enough to lure Arab and foreign visitors? Has Jordan been marketed abroad properly, as other governments marketed their respective countries? We need a clear answer, bearing in mind that other countries started their marketing drives very early.

I am aware that the government would set the vaccine as a requirement to receive services, in a bid to encourage people to take the shots, and thus ease the health and economic hardships we are undergoing. But the government has to realize that achieving these goals requires thorough examination of the issue and that spontaneous, haphazard action will not save us from this crisis that has had a negative impact on every aspect of life.

Without serious and genuine studies, we won’t be able to achieve our goal of a safe summer and vibrant tourism in a way that would mitigate the suffering of individuals and sectors. Perceiving reality as it is in a no-brainer. We are here trying to remind the government of the situation and encouraging it to work out prompt solutions, especially since summer is approaching.  The vaccination rule regarding the Golden Triangle is an additional obstacle before local tourism, and a new complication that would delay its revival. In fact, it might drive people to seek destinations in neighboring countries, where services are competitive and there are no Covid-related complications.

For Jordanians, staying at Dead Sea or Aqaba hotels is not an option, because their internal pools are closed, and they prefer to stay at home instead of spending too much money on an incomplete tour, which unworthy of the money paid for it. This is what will happen if we do not address the loopholes in the plan to encourage internal tourism in the upcoming summer. Shall we learn this lesson before national tourism receives another blow?