The Russian job and the big disappointment

All inbound tourist flights from Russia to Aqaba have been suspended, sources said on Tuesday. (Photo: Unsplash)
All inbound tourist flights from Russia to Aqaba have been suspended, sources said on Tuesday. (Photo: Unsplash)
AMMAN — The sounds of the celebration were still echoing through the media sphere, welcoming regular flights bringing Russian tourists to Aqaba with promises of revival and recovery. Alas, we woke up from the dream to a bitter reality that our governments and tourism sector leaders have failed over the years to change and are not expected to do so in the foreseeable future.اضافة اعلان

"All inbound tourist flights from Russia to Aqaba have been suspended," sources told Jordan News on Tuesday, citing the high cost of hotel accommodations and mandatory PCR tests at the airport, hovering around $40.

The flights have instead been redirected to Sharm El Sheikh, where everything is cheaper, the quality is the same or even better, and the brotherly Egyptians are famous for their hospitality.

This is a fatal blow to tourism in the "Golden Triangle," and we need to acknowledge it and try to do something about it.
Ten days ago, Jordan News did an in-depth report warning of the inevitable as we were expecting the sector to receive the kiss of life with a commendable "safe summer" anti-COVID strategy, especially in the three components of the triangle: Aqaba, Petra, and Wadi Rum. Shocked by the high cost and maybe other things, the Russians blew the whistle, changed the route, and decided to fly 220km down the coast of the Red Sea to enjoy an affordable vacation.

Figures speak for themselves and on almost all counts. Jordan is way more expensive than Egypt and Turkey, and it surely cannot compete with the open buffets and free drinks offered there. Jordanians themselves prefer to go to Sharm El-Sheikh or Trabzon than to Aqaba. Just have a look at the ads posted by travel agents and judge for yourselves. You can spend two nights in Taba for the price you pay for a fish meal for three persons at a five-star restaurant in Aqaba.
Let's admit it.

We can't live without tourism. In pre-COVID times, take 2019,

the sector "generated over 50,000 jobs, amassed JD5.9 billion, contributing 19.8 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP)," according to the Ministry of Tourism, as cited in the said report.

A word to tourism officials: Please spare us the talk about Jordan offering better quality. I have not heard many speaking about low quality of tourism services in the countries Jordan is competing with, and that explains why tens of thousands of Jordanians visit these destinations again and again.

What we seem to have overlooked is that the fact that the day-after competition is different, not only in the tourism sector, but also in foreign investments, in this industry and others. Countries are gasping for air, and it is indeed a matter of survival for all.
Sector leaders and officials might give you a thousand convincing reasons why Jordan is expensive for tourists.
Well, do something, then.

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