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Leveraging Jordan : Encouraging tourism appeal and investment

fares
Fares Braizat is chairman of NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions. (File photo: Jordan News)
The recipe for leveraging Jordan and achieving the targets of the Economic Modernization Vision, which launched on Monday, is to “add value” across sectors. Value added is not limited to conventional engineering-based industries; instead, it extends to sectors such as tourism and film, making Jordan a multibranched destination.اضافة اعلان

To achieve the targets of the vision for tourism, we need to leverage our readily available resources and approach them with the goal of creating jobs for unemployed Jordanian youth, who are increasingly showing signs of despair.

The five Christian pilgrimage sites acknowledged by the Vatican are the Baptism Site, Machaerus, Mount Nebo, Mar Elyas, and Lady of the Mount Monastery — and most need to be revamped to be visitor ready. Only one of them is properly prepared, Mount Nebo, thanks to private investment. The other four are in a miserable state. They are not visitor-ready, and despite that, they receive thousands of visitors who leave unhappy because these sites lack basic services. The outcome of that is definitely not conducive to attracting more tourists to the country. The private sector should help significantly by investment to lead these sites out of the dust and into the light of opportunity. 
Jordan’s political weight globally far outweighs its economic and geographical size. Its diplomatic presence, despite meager resources, builds on a “welcoming country” reputation that was attained as a result of being home to millions of refugees.
This is not to say that Jordan’s cultural heritage sites that have significance for Christian Pilgrims have not been improved partially. But there remains huge room for improvement to show respect for these cultural sites, realize their potential, and reach the goals set in the vision.

Another under-marketed product is nature. Starting with the weather that we take for granted, other countries, especially in the Gulf (a major high yield source market), long for our weather and would extend their stay to enjoy it. Knowing this, developing touristic products that appeal to this market would help us realize the country’s potential.

The other major high yield source market that Jordan appeals to is Europe. Within a five-hour flight time radius live hundreds of millions of people who relate to Christian Cultural heritage and would like to explore Christianity-related natural sites, geographies, and astrology. With 34 biblical sites in Jordan, we can leverage this more than any other country in the region, given the diversity of related products.

Where on earth can one drive for 20 minutes, going from 400m below sea level to 800–1000 above sea level, and enjoying various temperatures, topology, unique agricultural products, birds, and animals? That drive is from the Dead Sea to any mountain east of it, ranging from Madaba, Karak, to Tafileh.        

Jordan’s political weight globally far outweighs its economic and geographical size. Its diplomatic presence, despite meager resources, builds on a “welcoming country” reputation that was attained as a result of being home to millions of refugees. The reception of refugees is rooted in a value system of pride in generosity the Kingdom holds. Ordinary Jordanians — like their country — go out of their way to host generously, despite their inadequate economic resources. That must be leveraged too.

Jordanians have invested for 100 years; the time has come for them to realize the results of their investments. With help from friends and partners and propelling our own ability, we can do it and do it well.


The writer is chairman of NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions. [email protected]


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