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‘Connecting minds, creating the future’

Feb 22,2014 - Last updated at Feb 22,2014

Connecting minds, creating the future” is the theme under which the Dubai World Expo 2020 will be held in six years, and for which Dubai qualified with flying colours among four international bidders, the rest final three being Russia, Brazil and Turkey.

Dubai has earned this place due to the conscientious efforts of all stakeholders to meet the stringent criteria of the organisers.

Internationally, World Expo was held in 1851 in London, as the Great Exhibition, under the theme “events of a world that is aspiring to strengthen its connections, celebrate its cultural diversity and marvel its technological wonders”.

Nowadays, the expo is held every five years, and its main goal is to share with the global community its innovations and make progress on issues of international importance in the global economy, sustainable development and improved quality of life.

Hosting expo 2020 is a golden opportunity that should be maximised to accelerate growth of the tourism industry in the UAE, GCC and neighbouring countries, including Jordan, which should be showcasing its tourism product, taking advantage of this unique, major, international event, and its geographical proximity to Dubai.

The expo is expected to attract more than 25 million visitors over a period of six months, October 2020 to April 2021.

In Jordan, the tourism industry contributed 13 per cent to the gross domestic product in 2010, and has been instrumental in creating jobs, alleviating poverty and earning hard currency.

It is an integral part of the national economy, being the export industry number one, similar to the ICT sector.

Over the past three years tourism suffered a tremendous setback in the number of tourist arrivals, due to the regional political tensions.

However, the Jordan tourism product enjoys a diversity of niche markets, such as cultural, religious, medical, adventure and, most importantly, MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, events) tourism which can be promoted extensively within at the forthcoming expo, along with other economic benefits.

Combined pre- and post-package tours to Jordan and Dubai can be arranged jointly by local tour operators of both countries, in coordination with Jordan Tourism Board and the Dubai Tourism Authority, through Jordan’s “national tourism strategy” and the Dubai vision 2020, which serve to better position both destinations on the global tourism map.

Such mega-events are not easy to come by. Therefore, well-concerted efforts should be exerted by major stakeholders in the tourism industry in order to capitalise on this mega event that will attract worldwide exposure and, as a result, can be expected to have a positive impact on Jordan’s tourism, especially during these increasingly challenging times.

The writer is the vice-chairman of the Jordan Inbound Tour Operators Association (JITOA). He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

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