Boasting one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Jordan in its entirety is a world wonder. Tatiana Tsierkezou explores this authentic country’s appeal to the regional leisure traveller as well as the initiatives being put in place to further entice the global travel industry.
With its encapsulating diversity, Jordan is a spirited destination which fascinates all with its variety. Those yearning for an ideal getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, whether they are searching for relaxation and adventure, among other things, need look no further, as the country is filled to the brim with extraordinary and unforgettable experiences that cannot be found in other destinations within the MENA region.
“Taking into consideration the very stable and safe political situation Jordan has, it continues to enthral a whole new generation as a modern, vibrant nation,” explained general manager, Belle Vue Hotel Amman, Ziad Fostuq to TTG.
Elaborating on the country’s magical appeal, Fostuq commented: “From the haunting, primeval starkness of Wadi Rum, to the teeming centre of urban Amman; from the majestic ruins of bygone civilisations to the timeless splendour of the Dead Sea; Jordan is unveiled as a unique destination offering breath-taking and mysterious sights, high standard accommodations, exquisite cuisine and countless activities that can provide visitors with inspiration, motivation and rejuvenation.”
With this multi-faceted tourism portfolio pushing it to the forefront of the travel and tourism game, other key reasons to visit Jordan include its accessibility, value for money, its safe, stable and secure environment and its excellent weather all-year-round, according to director of sales and marketing, Dakkak Tours International, Wael Dakkak.
And let us not forget the hospitality of Jordan’s people. According to marketing and operations executive, Feynan Ecolodge (in the Ma’an Governorate), Sarah Dobbing, most tourists leave the country with a genuine appreciation for the hospitable nature of the locals.
“Visitors find that people are very welcoming wherever they go and this often surprises travellers who are jaded by the very commercial tourist experience they get in lots of places. The Bedouin in particular are renowned for their hospitality and that’s something we capture at Feynan, which is run entirely by Bedouin staff and offers opportunities to interact with and learn about Bedouin culture in an authentic setting,” she commented.
WHAT TO EXPERIENCE
With the awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Site, Petra, being one of the country’s most prominent tourist attractions, Dobbing explained that there is so much more to Jordan than just this.
“Most people have only really heard of Petra before they come here, but that’s just the beginning. In a few days you can visit a city, ancient ruins, the Dead Sea, dive in the Red Sea, explore the desert, hike in a water canyon, climb a Crusader castle and eat so much good food that you will need another break,” Dobbing enthused to TTG.
Communicating that Jordan comprises of an increasing number of adventure possibilities, she added that hiking, mountain biking, canyoning, abseiling and rock climbing are but a few of the many options that leisure travellers can opt for during their visit.
And as TTG sought to uncover the country’s best kept secrets for the leisure traveller looking to immerse themselves in Jordan’s heritage, we approached Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) for some enlightenment.
“Some of the secrets of Jordan include As-Salt, which was one of the first capital cities in Jordan,” said social media and communications editor, JTB, Taima Farouqi.
Continuing, she added: “Madaba, also known as the City of Mosaics, contains one of the oldest mosaics ever found depicting the holy lands; Ajlun was built in 1184 by one of Saladin’s generals at a vantage point to defend the lands; Karak castle is a fine example of the architectural and military capabilities of the Crusaders; and finally the Desert Castles – a group of castles built between the seventh and eighth century during the Ummayad Dynasty. The castles represent the innovation and advancement of the Ummayad Dynasty as well the influence of Islamic art and architecture.”
Another unique tourist attraction in Jordan which cannot be found anywhere else around the world is, as aforementioned by Fostuq and Dobbing, the Dead Sea in all its revitalising glory.
Spa enthusiasts will find themselves in their element. Standing approximately 429m below sea level, this wonder offers a slew of healing and beauty benefits.
“The number one reason Jordan is an ideal choice for leisure holidays is the fact that the destination contains one of the largest natural spas in the world; the dead sea – the lowest point on earth,” explained Farouqi toTTG.
“This comprises of salt and minerals reaching 29 per cent compared to the four per cent of [what is present in the world’s] oceans. Moreover, the mud contains approximately 12 types of different minerals proven to be very beneficial to many with skin problems such as eczema, as well as other physical problems such as arthritis and muscular pain.
“Also, very close to the Dead Sea resides the Ma’in Springs. These are hot mineral waterfalls with breath-taking views and water that also has many physical benefits,” Farouqi added.
However with this extensive portfolio of tourism attractions, how is Jordan’s travel and tourism industry working on its allure to the global travel market?
According to managing director, Nawafir International – Jordan, Adnan Habbab, the Jordanian government has implemented a number of initiatives to encourage more tourists to the country.
“These include providing free entry visas for a minimum stay of three days for those who book through a travel agency, subsidising the tourism sector (especially hotels) to be able to provide competitive rates, and a reduction of airport taxes for flights to Aqaba,” Habbab informed TTG.
On a more personal note, when questioned on Nawafir International – Jordan’s promotional initiatives, Habbab said: “We are promoting through international tourism fairs in Berlin, Dubai, London and Copenhagen.”
Meanwhile, Fostuq shared with TTG that Belle Vue Hotel Amman is working hand-in-hand with JTB and the Ministry of Tourism, as well as local Destination Management Companies.
“We have been quite successful in delivering the message that Jordan is a very safe and secure country.”
Expressing confidence, he added: “With the new Minister of Tourism in place, who has extensive experience in the tourism industry and was the managing director of JTB previously, we are sure that he will be initiating short-term strategies to stimulate and induce more tourism to the country.”
Referring to JTB’s initiatives throughout 2015, Dakkak shared that the entity is launching a very aggressive campaign in the GCC market to boost traffic and raise awareness, while the country has been and is hosting media, spanning the globe, for tailored familiarisation trips.
And straight from the source, Farouqi provided TTG with further insight into JTB’s strategies and plans. “After much research we realised that some of the most beneficial initiatives are digital. With current technologies in advertising and online targeting, we can initiate ads that show to audiences specifically interested in the travel industry instead of haphazardly presenting ads to everyone who might so happen to come across them even if travel is not currently on their minds, thus producing the largest return on investment.”
Reflecting Dakkak’s previous comment, she added: “Some of the ways we’ve been initiating this is through blogger trips, for example, Unravelling Jordan, which allows an opportunity for small-time new travel bloggers to embark on a trip to Jordan, thus, gaining them further exposure. This initiative also works side by side with blogger trips from more high-profile bloggers who are interested in adding Jordan to their list of travels.”
Honing in on Jordan’s positioning as an authentic destination steeped in rich heritage and culture, JTB is additionally work¬ing hard on a brand new campaign that promotes the innate hospitality that is held close to the Jordanian people’s hearts.
“We have received fantastic feedback from travellers over the years speaking of how hospitable Jordan is in comparison to other travel destinations. This we believe is a strong point we have that should be showcased more considering that hospitality is an important asset within the Jordanian culture that will never cease no matter how much times change.”
Concluding, she added: “Also included in the initiatives, we are currently in the process of waiving departure taxes at the Aqaba port to make it easier and more feasible for those who desire to come to Jordan to be able to do so.”
With this slew of exciting initiatives that are destined to further propel Jordan to the top of the travel and tourism industry, the country will forever stay true to its roots, providing the contemporary traveller a unique, unrivalled cultural experience.