Jordan has a variety of tourism products that offer visitors different experiences, but they need better promotion, sector representatives said on Monday.
“We are lucky with the diversity of weather and the various types of tourist attractions we have,” Tourism Minister Nidal Katamine said, adding that more efforts are needed to promote these advantages.
“It is also time to focus on how to benefit from tourism in the various governorates and to increase a tourist’s stay in Jordan ,” the minister noted.
Katamine said there is plenty of untapped potential in the sector, which contributed 14 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012, citing its possible employment opportunities.
Speaking at the launch of the twinning project “Strengthen the Institutional Tourism System in Jordan by Enhancing the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities Capacities”, he noted that the sector employs 6 per cent of the country’s workforce, which is lower than the international rate of 15 per cent.
The EU-funded initiative includes a twinning project between Jordan and Italy, under which the latter will help the ministry in the implementation of the National Tourism Strategy.
The main objective of the 15-month project is to strengthen the institutional and technical capacities of the ministry to enable it to exercise its political, regulatory, developmental and technical functions as enshrined in the strategy and in line with EU standards and best practices.
The project has three components, including strengthening the capacity of the ministry to effectively deliver the country’s tourism  policy, strategic objectives and to manage coordinated actions of tourism development.
The second component seeks to boost the capacities of the Tourism Ministry to plan, develop and promote an enhanced product mix for the domestic tourism industry, in coordination with the Department of Antiquities and the Jordan Tourism Board, according to the EU.
The third component is to promote tourism, develop instruments and tools using the knowledge base and expertise exchange.
EU Ambassador to Jordan Joanna Wronecka said that despite the contribution of the industry to the country’s GDP, the number of tourists is still low.
“We can’t ignore the impact of the regional situation on Jordan,” Wronecka noted, calling on the industry’s representatives to work towards a better future for the sector.
“Now, we have to focus on the future of tourism in Jordan … the country needs to encourage travel,” she said.
“If it’s well managed, tourism will be a good way to preserve Jordan’s heritage.”
Meanwhile, Italian Ambassador to Jordan Patrizio Fondi said such projects are beneficial for all parties involved.
He added that Amman and Rome have strong relations in several fields and already have twinning projects in the fields of agriculture, customs and telecommunications.
Jordan can benefit from the scheduled visit of Pope Francis to Jordan in May to promote religious tourism, Fondi noted.