Jordan battles Gulf visitor slump

Jordan's tourism revenues jumped 13% year on year in 2007 despite the country witnessing a decline in Arab and Gulf visitors.
Jordan battles Gulf visitor slump
By Administrator
Sun 10 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

Jordan's tourism revenues jumped 13% year on year in 2007 despite the country witnessing a decline in Arab and Gulf visitors.

According to numbers released by Jordan's central bank, tourism revenues, which comprise 10% of the kingdom's GDP, jumped by 13.4% to nearly US $2.11 billion during the first 11 months of 2007, compared to approximately $1.86 billion for the same period in 2006.

Revenue growth was achieved despite a sizeable slump in the number of Arab and Gulf tourists visiting the Kingdom, notably from Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Total arrivals plummeted from 3.17 million in 2006 to 3 million in 2007 according to Ministry of Tourism figures, while Arab visitor numbers slumped 7%, marking a drop of more than one million.

Gulf and Arab tourists traditionally account for more than 50% of total visitors according to the Jordan Tourism Board (JTB).

"We are very aware of the decrease in 2007 in the GCC market, but although we have a decrease in total number of tourists, we have a tremendous increase in tourism receipts in 2007," JTB communications manager Tohama Nabulsi explained to Oxford Business Group.

He said the decrease in Arab visitors was offset by an increase in tourists from other regions with the Ministry of Tourism revealing that travellers from the EU grew by over 37% during the first 11 months of 2007.

Numbers from the Asia Pacific region grew by more than 9% in the same period while American arrivals were up by around 4%.

In order to further boost tourism receipts, the government has launched a $70 million campaign to restore and beautify five of Jordan's historical cities, including Madaba, Kerak, Salt, Jerash and Ajloun, while last year the ancient city of Petra was named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.

JTB managing director Nayef Al Fayez said the country was now focusing on growing niche tourism sectors such as MICE, medical tourism, eco-tourism and religious tourism.

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