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Tourism growth encouraging

Jun 14,2017 - Last updated at Jun 14,2017

The number of tourists to the country in the first five months of the year went up by 10.5 per cent compared with the same period last year, according to the minister of tourism.

In terms of figures, 2.6 million tourists had visited the country by the end of May this year, while in the same period last year 1,864 visitors had come to Jordan.

That is good news even when compared to global trends.

As the World Travel Monitor results for the first eight months of 2016 showed, worldwide outbound travel was still growing, despite terror attacks and political unrest, but the figures do not compare to Jordan’s.

The number of worldwide outbound trips grew by 3.9 per cent and this year’s expectations are within the same figures. Based on current trends, the UN World Tourism Organisation projects international tourist arrival worldwide to grow at a rate of 3 to 4 per cent in 2017.

Back to Jordan, overnight tourists for the same period rose by 11.5 per cent and there was an impressive 55.6 per cent increase in the number of tourist groups.

These encouraging figures can be easily attributed to the fact that Jordan remains a safe and stable oasis in a sea of conflicts. Part of the merit no doubt goes to those who work hard to promote Jordan as an enticing tourism destination.

Over and above the greatly appreciated, at times unique, sites — archaeological, religious or health, particularly, the three fields the Kingdom is famous for — scattered across the country, visitors will fall in love with the weather, in its majority pleasant most of the year and, the greatest asset, the famous Jordanian hospitality and kindness to strangers.

Yet, the above figures should not give reason to rest on our laurels.

More can, and should, be done to improve and promote the great potential the country has in terms of tourism.

Immediately coming to mind are better services and a bit more entertainment, besides by now established music festivals. Highways, including the stretch to Petra and Aqaba, need resurfacing and more gas stations dotted along them.

Civilised rest houses equipped with clean and modern facilities, including toilets, and restaurants are needed along the long main highways leading anywhere in the country.

Hotel and restaurant prices need to be revisited with a view to making them more affordable for tourists, both foreign and local.

As is, the prices are prohibitively high for locals, who could become the backbone of tourism, which is highly seasonal for outsiders.

There is also need for continuous upgrading of tourist sites so that they continue to attract visitors.

 

Tourism could be a very important source of income for the country. Investing in it is bound to get real important, much-needed returns.

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