At a time when ongoing political strife in the Middle East severely affects tourism in Jordan, industry sources reveal that Saudi visitors keep the sector afloat. Some 232,000 Saudis visited Jordan during the first half of the year 2001, making up 82 percent of all Arabian Gulf visitors to the kingdom during that period.
Jordan’s tourism minister, Talib Al-Rifai, stated that Arab tourists in general, and Saudi tourists in particular were responsible for saving the Jordanian tourism sector from complete collapse.
With the regional situation deteriorating since the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada in September 2000, the number of incoming European tourists declined by nearly 30 percent. Hotels operating throughout Jordan report less than 60 percent occupancy rates, according to Al-Watan daily. Tourism revenues, as a result, dropped by nearly 8.2 percent and many Jordanian hotels are now offering up to 30 percent discounts in an effort to lure tourists.
Official statistics show that the Jordanian tourism sector contributes an average nine percent of the nation’s GDP; the product value of this sector is estimated at 350 million Jordanian dinars ($500 million).
Between the years 1998 and 1999, however, Jordan’s tourism industry experienced an eight percent growth. Furthermore, since Jordan made peace with Israel in 1994, its tourism industry grew significantly. During this period, the number of hotel rooms nearly doubled, from 7,250 in 1994, to 15,091 in 1999. –(MENA Report)
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )