Jordan and Turkey have been discussing potential cooperation in the tourism sector and are expected to develop joint packages for long-haul tourists, a sector official said on Monday.
Jordan Tourism Board  Director General Abdul Razaq Arabiat said that although the Kingdom receives visitors from countries far away like Brazil, Australia, Korea and Japan, “our main goal is still to increase the number of visitors coming from these countries”. He explained that a lack of direct flights from these countries to Jordan makes it difficult for prospective tourists to visit the Kingdom as a standalone destination.
In addition, Arabiat noted, visitors from these countries usually prefer to visit more than one destination at a time. In meetings with Turkish Tourism Minister Ertugrul Günay, “we discussed the possibility of developing joint packages for potential visitors from these countries to enable them visit both Turkey and Jordan”, Arabiat said, adding that Turkish carriers operate direct flights to these countries, which will help give tourists the option of visiting Jordan in the same trip.
Arabiat also announced that Günay is scheduled to visit Amman soon to meet with Minister of Tourism Nayef Al Fayez for further discussion on the issue. Arabiat made his remarks on Monday on the sidelines of the first Turkish-Arab Tourism Forum, organised by the Arab Tourism Organisation (ATO), which began on Sunday in the Turkish city of Bursa.
Speaking at the opening of the forum, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey considers Arab countries its friends. He noted that Turkey had witnessed a significant growth in the number of Arab tourists in the past few years, adding that even though Turkey is known as a country that has turned its face to the West, it has not turned its back to the East or South and would never do so.
He also said the obstacles of distance, borders and other barriers that have stood between Turks and Arabs for the last century were merely virtual. Erdogan added that Turkey had succeeded in increasing tourism revenues from $12 billion in 2002 to $23 billion in 2011.
Meanwhile, ATO President Sheikh Bandar Bin Fahed said the forum was meant to bolster cooperation between Arab countries and Turkey in tourism, in addition to encouraging more investment in the sector. Figures he presented showed that about 31,000,000 tourists visit Turkey annually, compared to 35,000,000 tourists who visit all of the Arab countries together. “We want to have more cooperation with Turkey to build on their experience,” Sheikh Bandar said.