Jordanian tourism revenue dropped 10.6 percent in the first five months of 2011 from a year earlier due to regional turmoil, according to Jordan Tourism Board director general Nayef al-Fayez.
Revenue decreased to 793 million dinars ($1.12 billion) and the number of tourists dropped by 11 percent to 2.6 million during the period, he said in an interview in Amman.
The downward trend will continue, and “there will definitely be a drop by the end of this year in revenue and in the number of tourists,” he said. Tourism revenue, which makes up 14 percent of gross domestic product, had risen 17 percent to 2.4 billion dinars last year compared with 2009, he said.
Islamist-led protests, some of them violent, have been taking place in Jordan since the start of the year amid regional revolts that ousted longstanding leaders in Tunisia and Egypt, and led to armed conflict in Libya and unrest in Syria and Yemen. Most demonstrations took place in Amman and other towns, away from popular tourism destinations in the kingdom.
The total number of Arab visitors to Jordan in the first five months dropped 8 percent to 1,667,354 compared with the same period last year, according to an emailed statement from the Tourism Ministry. The number of European visitors fell 9.9 percent to 391,756. Tourism employs about 45,000 people nationwide.
The Tourism Board started a campaign to promote Jordan as a safe destination for visitors, Fayez said. “There was misperception about the situation in Jordan that it had conditions similar to those in Libya, Yemen, Tunisia and other places,” he said. “After time passed, it became evident that the situation in Jordan is stable and safe.”
Travel agencies have a hard time promoting Jordan as a standalone destination because joint package tours in the region are more popular, Awni Kawar, managing director of Petra Travel and Tourism Co., was cited as saying today by the Jordan Times. “We had many cancellations and expect more of the same if the situation in Syria develops,” he said.
Jordan has 24,000 hotel rooms and has plans to add another 5,000 rooms through a number of projects, including a $200 million Dead Sea resort.