Tourist arrivals to Petra are expected to decline by 25 percent in the coming two months compared to last year despite a rise of 30 percent in the first nine months of this year, a Petra Region Planning Council (PRPC) official said on Sunday.
Suleiman Farajat, deputy director of the PRPC, said the number of tourists converging on the southern destination is decreasing due to the clashes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Tourist flocking to Petra numbered around 376,000 bringing in revenue of approximately 7.5 million Jordanian dinars (JD) with an increase of almost JD2 million compared to the January-September months of last year.
However, Farajat said the decline Petra is witnessing is not high. “The issue is connected with the [clashes] in the region,” said Farajat. “But we are not expecting [the decline] to last for more than two months,” he added.
Tourist arrivals to Petra soared by 35 percent in the first five months of this year. Last year, 429,644 visitors flocked to the rose-red city bringing in revenue of around JD7.7million.
The Petra council charges an entry fee of JD20 for foreign and Arab visitors. Jordanian patrons pay only JD1. Children are charged half the adult fare. Schoolchildren and official visitors are exempt from paying the entrance fee.
According to official Ministry of Tourism figures tourist arrivals to the Kingdom soared by 10 percent in the first quarter of this year as compared to the same period in 1999.
The fall/winter period is the high tourist season for Jordan, but the events in the Palestinian territories have caused cancellations and postponements by travel and tour operators offering Middle East packages that include Jordan, Egypt and Israel on their itineraries.
Jordan has been banking on a target of one billion dollars in revenues from the tourism industry in the year 2000.
Israel, too, suffered the consequences of the violence. The crisis and resulting cancellations came just as Israel's $3.5 billion tourism industry was having its best year ever, AP said. Last year, 2.6 million people visited Israel and occupied territories. Celebrations of the new millennium and a sense of peace in the region had industry officials banking on three million visitors this year. — ( Jordan Times )
By Oula Al Farawati
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )