Just as the bright and diverse sand draws the eye to it, Jordan skilfully attracts a varied crowd to experience all its charms. Natalie Hami reports.
It cannot be denied that Jordan’s tourism has suffered in the wake of certain troubles in the region, however, it also cannot be denied that this eclectic destination’s tourism product still intrigues travellers the world over. This is certainly one destination that boasts a great deal of memorable experiences stemming from its gastronomy, religious sites, culture and heritage.
Managing director, Jordan Tours & Travel, Eid Nawafleh described the wonders of Jordan perfectly and succinctly. “Jordan is a country of outstanding diversity. It is a land that encompasses all, from mountains, green valleys, historical sites, wetlands and oases to breathtaking desert landscapes and the wonderful underwater worlds. All this makes the destination able to cater to the needs of different types of visitors.”
Meanwhile, drumming up support and further accessibility to these remarkable sites and experiences that should not be left out of anyone’s bucket list, are the destination’s tourism bodies.
The Jordanian government has recently approved a proposal put forward by Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Nayef Al-Fayez, to ease regulations regarding entry visas for tourists coming into Jordan. Some of the amendments include waiving visa fees for tourists of all nationalities coming through Jordanian tour operators, whether travelling individually or in groups, on the condition that they stay for two consecutive nights, and waiving visa fees for individual tourists who have organised their trip without a tour operator and have purchased the unified tourist site ticket, on the condition that they spend a minimum of three consecutive nights in Jordan.
The unified tourist site ticket, better known as ‘Jordan Pass’, was also launched by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and allows visitors to gain access to a number of touristic sites. It also aims to save visitors time and money.
Managing director, Nawafir Tours, Adnan Habbab applauded these efforts, adding that Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) recently received its promotion budget and has embarked on a massive tourism campaign in many countries around the globe.
Also keen to promote Jordan’s tourism product is InterContinental Hotels Group, as its area director of sales and marketing, Tarek Madanat informed TTG.
“In collaboration with JTB and our business partners locally and regionally, we work intensively to promote Jordan through different channels. These marketing activities are designed to run all year round reaching our potential visitors through proper channels either online, offline, via the media, social media, exhibitions or TV.”
Immersed in history, Jordan has enthralled visitors for centuries with its diverse line-up of attractions and activities, but currently one particular niche has begun to stand out; that of adventure.
CEO, Amani Tours, Karim Mubarak told TTG: “Adventure and adventure tourism is really picking up in Jordan where many travellers interested in Jordan want to see it in a different way.”
According to director of incoming, Karma House Travel & Tourism, Issam Sweis, the company will also be targeting adventure travellers, as well as a number of other segments. “We are now targeting the new niches such as bird watching and adventure (hiking, climbing, biking) since clients interested in these themes always look for new exotic destinations to practice their hobbies.”
Jordan is also steadily rising in popularity as a destination for FITs, as elaborated on by managing director, JTB, Abed Alrazzaq Arabiyyat who revealed to TTG: “FITs, or individual travellers, are increasingly looking for unique and off-the-beaten-track experiences such as interacting with locals and enjoying unique local experiences.”
Apart from the means to delight adventurers from across the globe, Jordan, which has long been known for its rich religious history, is also able to gratify the religious tourist with the site of John the Baptist’s settlement at Bethany Beyond the Jordan, where Jesus was baptised; and Mount Nebo where Moses viewed the Holy Land of Canaan that he would never enter. Mount Nebo became a place of pilgrimage for early Christians from Jerusalem. Besides these two sites there are three other holy sites in Jordan that were designated by the Vatican as Millennium 2000 pilgrimage sites.
According to Sweis, following the Pope’s visit in May 2014, interest in religious tours began to rise.
Regional director – Jordan, Mövenpick Hotels and Resorts, Michael Nugent reiterated a similar sentiment to TTG, noting that Mövenpick properties in Jordan focus on three main niches including that of religious tourism. “Jordan has unique biblical sites near the Dead Sea that attract religious travellers from across the world, and to whom we offer one of the best accommodation options.”
With sustainable tourism being a hot topic in the travel and tourism industry these days, Jordan is a destination which has always proven its worth in this particular segment, offering eco enthusiasts – or simply anyone that loves nature – the chance to try out an array of eco-related experiences.
And with this sector quite firmly established, Mubarak of Amani Tours told TTG that the company will also be delving into this segment.
“Amani Tours will be offering a new product called ‘Sustainable Tourism’. This is community based tourism, where visitors to Jordan will have the opportunity to spend time with local Jordanian communities and learn from them, their way of life and exchanging, be it information, learning how to pick tomatoes or weaving a basket.
There is no doubt that Jordan’s tourism product is enviable, capturing the attention of travellers fascinated by its eclectic mix of attractions and eager to experience them for themselves.