Tourism Sector Says Visitor Numbers Beginning to Bounce Back After Years of Safety Concerns

by Haneen Nofal
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 Destinations such Petra, Amman Citadel and downtown Amman have received more visitors since beginning of this year, according to Jordan Tourism Board.

  Irish tourist, Terence Killeen, is among the many visitors who flocked to Petra during the first eight months of this year, and he cited safety as one of the main reasons he chose to travel. 

 “We heard so much about Petra and we wanted to see it. Coming to Petra was a great experience and we wanted to see other places,” he said, adding that Jordan is seen as a safe place to visit and danger exists whenever you go.

 Dazzling destinations such Petra, Mount Nebo, Amman Citadel and bustling downtown Amman have received a great number of visitors since the beginning of this year, according to the Jordan Tourism Board (JTB). 

 In recent years, regional instability caused visitor numbers to shrink, despite Jordan being one of the safest countries in the region. 

 Jordan Tourism Board General Director Abdul Razzaq Arabiyat said that during the first eight months of this year there was an increase in tourists who stayed in the Kingdom by 12 per cent, adding that income from tourism also increased by 14 per cent. 

 He noted that a new strategy using social media was implemented to change the mentality of tourists and convince them that Jordan is safe and offers diverse attractions. 

 “Hotels in Petra are witnessing great demand in the last quarter of this year and in the beginning of next year there will be no available rooms,” the JTB official said. 

 “We are optimistic because in the last quarter of this year Ryanair will start operating their trips to Jordan, they will operate 14 flights to Jordan, 10 to Amman and 4 to Aqaba, and this will increase the number of tourists,” he said, adding that EasyJet will start operating flights from Berlin to Aqaba and from London to Aqaba.  

 “King Hussein Airport used to host a very limited number of flights in the past two years. Now between 28 and 30 flights will be operated at the airport weekly so we are optimistic that next year it will be booming more,” Arabiyat noted. 

 “We passed the stage of tourists fearing to come to Jordan, because Jordan proved that it is a safe country and the respect paid by the world towards their Majesties King Abdullah and Queen Rania and the political role of Jordan in the region as a peaceful role,” he added,  

 Nabih Riyal, managing director of Plaza Tours and a member of the Jordan Society of Tourism and Travel Agents, confirmed his organisation saw an increase in tourists this year. 

 “This comes following the promotional programmes implemented by the private sector and the plans followed by JTB. Usually promotion done either online or by participating in tourist exhibitions abroad” he told The Jordan Times. 

 However, the sector is suffering from lack of infrastructure such as transportation amidst the growing number of tourists, according to Riyal. 

 He noted that during summer, Arabs head to the Kingdom, while during spring and autumn people from Europe generally visit the country. 

 Noreen O’Donohue, a British tourist, said people have been very helpful, adding that Jordan is a good place and they would like to support it.  

 Father Ammar Shahin, the director of the Mount Nebo site, said that this year, the number of tourists is higher than last year. 

 “According to the statistics from January to July, Mount Nebo clinched first place among sites in Jordan with an increase of tourists by 149 per cent compared to last year. We hope that we will be in this level,” he added. 

 Teni Yesilitepe, a tourist from Turkey, argued that there is instability all over the world, not just in one particular place. 

 “Jordan is very extraordinary country and it is fantastic country. I have been to a lot of places, Petra is one of the must-visit sites,” she added. 

 Source: www.jordantimes.com