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'Significant' drop in demand for outbound tourism during eid

Recent protests did not influence foreign bookings to Kingdom — stakeholders

By Ahmed Bani Mustafa - Jun 12,2018 - Last updated at Jun 12,2018

Many Jordanians prefer staying at resorts at the Dead Sea or Aqaba during the Eid Al Fitr holiday (Photo by Ahmed Bani Mustafa)

AMMAN — The number of Jordanians travelling outside the Kingdom is expected to plummet during this year's Eid Al Fitr holiday as compared to last year, stakeholders said.

Reservations for trip packages have dropped by 70 per cent for this year's Eid break, in comparison to 2017, Jordan Society of Tourism and Travel Agents President Mohammad Samih told The Jordan Times on Monday.

He attributed the shunning of overseas trips to the economic situation of Jordanians this year. "Travel agencies are complaining about the low demand for outbound tourism for the Eid holiday. We know that Jordanians decide about their travel plans at the last minute, but it is too late now to expect a better turnover," he commented.

During Eid Al Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, a number of Jordanians tend to travel to their favourite destinations, which mainly include Turkey, Georgia and Egypt, Samih said.

Eid Al Fitr is due to start Friday or Saturday, depending on the sighting of the crescent moon (hilal) of the new lunar month. The official holiday has been announced to begin Friday and continue until Monday.

The number of Jordanians who spend their holiday in vacation spots in the Kingdom this year is expected to go up, according to Hussein Helalat, member of the Jordan Hotel Association.

"Local tourists prefer to visit Aqaba and the Dead Sea, not Petra or other archaeological sites, which means that we will witness an increase in the occupancy rate at the seaside hotels of up to 90 per cent," Helalat stated.

As per inbound tourism (foreign tourists coming to the Kingdom), Samih said that despite the Eid holiday falling during the low season, the sector could benefit from attracting international expats working in the Gulf countries to visit Jordan for a holiday.

"If they do not have enough days to go back home, some Westerners usually pay a visit of one week or less to Jordan to see Petra and other destinations," he commented, noting that the inbound reservations for the coming season, starting in September, were not influenced by the recent protests against the government's austerity measures.

"Travel agents received no trip cancellations but rather some inquiries," he stressed. 

The protests came to a halt last Thursday after the government of Hani Mulki resigned and former education minister Omar Razzaz was designated to form a new Cabinet.

The popular movement came one day after the professional associations staged a general strike and a rally to protest the new income tax draft law, which Razzaz has since promised to withdraw from the Lower House.

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