Jordan's private tourism firms eye Russian, MICE markets

Published October 15th, 2015 - 02:00 GMT

Private tourism companies plan to target a number of international markets to promote Jordan as a tourist attraction and as a hub for the industry of international meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE).

In separate phone interviews with The Jordan Times on Wednesday, several stakeholders highlighted a recent tour to Russia and future promotional campaigns in other countries such as Algeria and Turkey. 

The visit to Russia last week, had “a great audience and a huge interaction”, Tyche Tours General Manager Arwa Mahadin said, adding that the Russian market gives immediate results, which are needed for Jordan’s tourism sector in light of ongoing conflicts in the region.

“The Russian market is beneficial to Jordan as are the Dubai and Turkey markets for example, and it views Jordan’s tourist attractions favourably, which means we should work with them to promote Jordan as a tourist and MICE destination,” Mahadin added. 

Nabih Riyal, general manager of Plaza Tours, said the Russian event included two sessions, the first was attended by around 200 Russian tourist companies, during which a presentation on Jordan’s tourist attractions was delivered and it received “good feedback”.

The second session focused on MICE events in Jordan and was attended by around 170 to 180 Russian tourist companies, Riyal said, adding that there are not many Russian tourists in Jordan not because of the turbulence in the region but due to weak promotion.

Kempinski Hotel General Manager Sébastien Mariette said prices in Jordan are high, which might make it difficult to attract Russian tourists to the Kingdom at first. 

However, based on the reaction he observed at the event, Mariette said: “On the mid-term, I am sure more Russians will be visiting.”

The hotelier said that those who knew nothing about Jordan were happy to learn about it, and those who knew were glad the Kingdom held such a promotional event in Russia.

Mahadin said tourism authorities should be working on an urgent plan to target promising countries instead of long-term plans in order to stimulate the country’s economy and promote its stability.

Visits to other countries should bring continuous tourist cooperation with careful planning, she said, adding that visits should not be a one-time event without follow-up.

Experts in the field should be involved in the whole promotion process, Mahadin added.

Private tourist companies are planning to make an international tour around various countries to study promising markets and narrow down their options in terms of which markets to focus more or less on, she said, adding that Jordan’s capability of holding MICE events, in places like the Dead Sea for example, should be promoted as well.

Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) is working with the USAID-supported Jordan International Conferences Ambassador Programme to train Jordanians — who are active and recognised internationally in the fields of medicine, academia, business and other sectors — to promote the Kingdom as a viable destination for MICE.

The MICE industry stimulates an estimated $1.2 trillion and 400,000 conferences and exhibitions worldwide each year, according to USAID.

In Jordan, revenue from MICE is only 1.7 per cent of the country’s total tourism revenue.

Moreover, the JTB is implementing an executive plan to promote the Kingdom’s tourist attractions over the upcoming four years, targeting the British, German and French markets.

The contingency marketing strategy, which is being carried out in cooperation with several local partners, seeks to address concerns over regional safety, boost online and offline communication with prospective markets, and design packages based on their preferences, according to the board.

Once the strategy proves successful in Europe, it will be replicated in other supporting and potential markets, JTB Managing Director Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat said in remarks to the press in August.

By Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas

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