Home to some of the world’s most fascinating sites, Jordan is a bucket list favourite. But what are industry stakeholders doing to further develop the country’s tourism portfolio? Tatiana Tsierkezou investigates.
Jordan definitely stands out among its neighbours, with a culture so unique and incredibly charming, and a collection of awe-inspiring scenes to astonish even the most well-travelled individual. With these key attributes in tow, tourism industry movers and shakers are pulling out all the stops and investing their time and money into ensuring that visitors to the country leave feeling more than satisfied, having their thirst for adventure and culture well and truly quenched.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan holds tourism close to its heart, with this industry being of vital importance to its economy; it is the Kingdom’s largest economic sector, its second largest private sector employer and its second highest producer of foreign exchange.
And it comes as no surprise that in previous years the country’s tourism industry has faced various obstacles and struggles due to its geographical location.
“Tourism in Jordan is influenced by the socio-political situation in the region,” explained managing director, Jordan Tourism Board (JTB), Dr. Abdalrazzaq Arabiyat exclusively. “The location of Jordan makes it central to all political and religious conflicts in the Middle East. However, the diversity in the country’s geography and climate has given the Kingdom a strategic position as a crossroads between past civilizations, with a wide spectrum of natural and ancient cultural offerings.”
Arabiyat explained to TTG that despite the intermittent political crises, Jordan is widely acknowledged worldwide as a peaceful, safe and hospitable destination.
“For these reasons, safety, hospitality and the friendliness of people are amongst the key attributes of Jordan’s tourism image,” he added.
According to recently released statistics issued by Jordan’s Minister of Tourism & Antiquities, Lina Innab, the country’s tourism industry has been performing rather well. During the first four months of 2018, tourism receipts hit $1.6 million – an 11.8 per cent jump on 2017. Also during the first four months of the year, a nine per cent increase in visitor arrivals was picked up on and a 27.6 per cent jump in group visitors was recorded.
But which markets are key to this stunning destination? JTB’s Arabiyat answered this: “Traditional tourism markets are more important than ever. We are mainly targeting Western Europe with a major focus on countries such as the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. The JTB is also focusing on additional markets such as North America, China, Australia and India.”
Mohammad Labban, the general manager of the soon-to-open Hyatt Regency Aqaba Ayla resort, also explained that Jordan’s domestic market and travellers from neighbouring countries will be key to the hotel upon its launch this year, while cluster director of sales and marketing, Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea and Kempinski Hotel Aqaba Red Sea, Mohammed Saed pinpointed the local market, Lebanon, Palestine and the GCC countries as key.
“On an international level, we welcome guests from various countries such as Russia, the US, Germany, France, the Scandinavian countries and more,” he added.
And while Jordan is home to incredible historical and natural attractions that draw in scores of visitors, tourism stakeholders are working day in, day out to develop the country’s portfolio in a way that complements its assets.
One such project is the aforementioned Hyatt Regency Aqaba Ayla Resort, which is opening this year.
Shedding light on the hospitality project was Labban: “Hyatt is growing rapidly in the region, with a focus on increasing our core hotel business with excellence, reaching destinations we believe will add difference to their locations. That being said, we are opening Hyatt Regency Aqaba Ayla – which will be the first hotel to open within the prestigious Ayla development – a master planned, multiphase development on the northern shores of Aqaba. It is expected to be operational in the fourth quarter of 2018.”
The new property will represent the second Hyatt hotel in Jordan, following Grand Hyatt Amman, and will join more than 150 Hyatt Regency hotels worldwide.
Labban revealed to TTG exclusively that Hyatt Regency Aqaba Ayla will be a one-stop experience that puts everything a guest needs right at their fingertips. It will house a full range of services and amenities, including unforgettable culinary experiences.
“Given that the property is new to the populous city itself, we look forward to engaging our guests with the hotel and the destination. One of our many unique selling points is the location of Ayla Golf Course on our doorstep, an 18-hole par-72 championship golf course, masterfully designed by Greg Norman, and the local and international golf community will be a big focus for us,” he said.
But it doesn’t end here; the Kingdom has an endless list of developments in the pipeline, as explained JTB’s Arabiyat: “There are new developments happening in Jordan, which include major hotel and conference centre openings. As well as Hyatt Regency Aqaba, the Ayla development will be welcoming Al Multaqa, a new major convention centre, which is scheduled to open in 2019. The brand-new W Hotel, located in the heart of the new downtown (Al Abdali), is now open, while The Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis-branded properties are currently under construction.”
Meanwhile, Kempinski hotels in Jordan are making sure that their portfolios stay fresh. According to Arabiyat, Kempinski Hotel Amman will be welcoming a new conference centre during the summer season of 2018. Adding to this, Saed shed light on various other developments at both Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea and Kempinski Hotel Aqaba Red Sea.
“At Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea, we are currently developing a new wedding venue called Inanna Terrace, which is located on the beach and can accommodate up to 700 guests. The new Inanna Terrace will certainly take any wedding, social event, gala dinner and car launch experience to the next level. This brand-new venue is expected to open at the end of Q3 and provides panoramic views of the Dead Sea.”
Adding to this, the hotel has plans to renovate its Ishtar village rooms, suites and Royal Villas, introduce SMART services through high-tech systems such as IPTV systems, and upgrade the kids’ club.
“This is in addition to the recent projects that took place in various areas of the hotel, such as installing new state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment in our meetings and conference facilities, upgrading our WiFi services and the renovation of all our kitchens,” Saed said.
At Kempinski Hotel Aqaba Red Sea, new developments have also been rife. The hotel recently started a soft renovation project spanning rooms and suites, while new F&B concepts have been launched.
LINKS TO JORDAN
It’s not only the hospitality industry that is embracing exciting changes and upgrades. Jordan has been witnessing an increase in connectivity to new markets as well as key markets.
In February of this year, Ryanair revealed that it would be launching 14 flights to Jordan’s King Hussein International Airport in Aqaba and Queen Alia International Airport in Amman.
Kicking off this exciting news were Amman-Paphos (Cyprus) flights, and in October this year, Aqaba-Paphos services will be introduced.
Also in October, the low-cost carrier will be launching services from Amman to Bologna (two-times-weekly); Brussels Zaventem (two-times-weekly); Bucharest (two-times-weekly); Budapest (two-times-weekly); Krakow (two-times-weekly); Milan Bergamo (three-times-weekly); Prague (two-times-weekly); Vilnius (two-times-weekly); and Warsaw Modlin (two-times-weekly).
Ryanair’s winter schedule will also offer travellers flights from Aqaba to Athens (two-times-weekly); Cologne (two-times-weekly); Rome Ciampino (two-times-weekly); and Sofia (two-times-weekly).
Finally, Turkish Airlines recently launched three-times-weekly direct services from Istanbul to Aqaba, representing its second destination in the country, following flights to Amman.
Confident and strategic, beautiful Jordan is ensuring that its guests are well taken care of, guaranteeing them memorable experiences to last a lifetime.