Jordan unveils its religious attractions to woo Indian tourists
The country has several Biblical sites to draw Indians.
Jordan is all set to get more visible in the Indian MICE market. To kick off the process, the Jordan Tourism Board will roll out road shows in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore exclusively for corporate decision- makers, and this will be followed by familiarisation trips to Jordan for key people in this segment.
Sharing this information over coffee, Jordan Tourism Board (India Office) Country Manager Ashit Taneja said an incentive group of 300 from Bangalore will soon be headed to Jordan, which has thus far not been a significant player in the Indian MICE market. Another, more exclusive group of 16 couples, all flying business class, is being taken by a Mumbaibased mattress company to Jordan. MICE is the acronym for Meetings Incentives Conventions and Exhibitions.
Jordan, which is a five- and- a- halfhour flight from Delhi by Royal Jordanian Airlines, received 53,000 outwardly mobile Indians last year.
Many of these Indian travellers, mainly from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, went to Jordan for religious reasons.
The tiny country abounds in Biblical sites such as Bethany- beyond- the- Jordan, Mount Nebo and Madaba ( Jebel al- Madhbah). For the Jordan Tourism Board, this is a significant segment, and it expects more Indian tourist to visit that country because it doesn't charge any visa fee for groups of five or more. Jordan has a system of visa on arrival.
"Jordan is a small country but it has a very well developed infrastructure," Taneja pointed out. He said the country has a hook for every kind of tourist. The rugged Wadi Rum, which is famously associated with the adventures of the legendary spy Lawrence of Arabia, has a big following among adventure seekers. The Dead Sea, which Taneja calls " the world's biggest open- air spa," is of course universally popular. The Red Sea port town of Aqaba, the haven of deep- sea divers, is another major tourist attraction. And the wondrous Petra, the ancient Greek city carved out of rose- coloured rocks on the slopes Jebel al- Madhbah, which has featured in innumerable films starting with Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade and video games such as Spy Hunter, is Jordan's most- admired tourist spot.
Taneja said the beauty of Jordan is that it stretches for 400km from north to south, and you can drive down the distance in four hours.
There's a lot to see and do in Jordan and with Egypt being buffeted by political troubles, its Red Sea neighbour is bound to see a rise in the number of Indian arrivals.
"Till last year, Jordan was being promoted only as a 'combo destination' to be linked with a visit to Egypt, Israel or Saudi Arabia, but now, we are projecting it as a stand- alone tourism magnet," Taneja said. To get its message across, Jordan Tourism Board has carried out promotional activities with Yahoo! and PVR Cinemas in Delhi/ NCR. The message being sent out is that Jordan has enough to keep you busy for four or five nights.
Language is not a problem in Jordan ( everyone speaks fluent English) and tourism is a big industry, so visitors are welcomed. And if your palate pines for home- style food, you can always drop in at an Indian restaurant (Jordan has a number of them) or just dig the local delicacy Mansaf, which is a pilaf with lots of dry fruits and stewed kid lamb. Jordan is the destination to watch out for.
53,000 Number of Indian leisure and religious tourists who visited Jordan in 2012.