Where is the Knot? Can It Be Untied?!

By: Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Sun 17 April / Apr 2016. 12:00 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

Positive testimonials of tourists from different nationalities on Jordan are interesting. Yet, this poses a question: where exactly is the knot that prevents the touristic promotion of Jordan as part of a Middle East that is mostly enflamed with warfare and plagued with instability?

Accordingly, the most recent testimony, a short 4-minute video, prepared by Jordanian youth, Kitty Kawar, included a collection of “all”positive interviews with American, British, Swedish, and tourists from other nationalities. Even though the content of these testimonials does not introduce anything new to Jordanians, still, it they show how ignorant others are about the fact that Jordan is indeed an oasis of security and stability, despite of the general dark and gloomy impression of the region —the Kingdom included. This is to the point that two American and British ladies actually stated that Jordan is safer than their own countries, and that here they can move about without fear or concern.

So, once again; where is the knot? Where do we fall short? Why do we fail, until this day, to paint the true image of Jordan in the minds of the folks in the West? And how do we distinguish Jordan —a safe and secure country— from an inflamed ware-torn region?

There are attempts by the Ministry of Tourism’s in this regard, but they do not suffice; perhaps due to the shortage in resources and(or) ideas. Processing this discrepancy requires —with all honesty— more efforts on behalf of the Ministry, and even more on the Board’s.

Here comes in play the collaborative role of all in-charged officials, inside and outside. Dozens of ambassadors abroad are responsible in this regard, to put together a long-term team to launch a campaign that would correct the misconception of the situation in Jordan being just as it is in Syria and Iraq! And that Jordan is not constant target for terrorist attacks like Turkey and Egypt.

This role is vital now; a new approach to a salvage tourism in Jordan, as well as the economy, is imperative. The tourism sector in Jordan has so much unattained potential, for many reasons. Tourism carries the capacity to save the Country’s economy through revitalisation and the attraction of more in-bound tourism, employing and portraying Jordan as the open museum it is, with the climatic and geographic varieties that would spare tourists visiting five countries —put together.

However, the budgets of both the Jordan Tourism Board and the Ministry’s, combined, do not suffice to change the picture. To convince the world that Jordan is a regional exception, we need to afford continuous strides steadfast the attainment of goals —uninterrupted efforts, instead of launching separate, interrupted campaigns here and there.

The image constructed of the Middle East is decades old, and to attain the much needed change in reality, much elaborate, condensed, detailed efforts have to be deployed, pumping videos, reports, and images, as well as campaigns, with the momentum to change foreigner misconception on Jordan; that it is part of a region that bears only death, the Kingdom included.

The testimonies in the short video, uncover that all those who visited Jordan had travelled in spite of relatives and family members expressing their concern and fear of travelling here! Those who took it upon themselves to make the trip, despite the warnings, found out that our Jordan is safe, let alone beautiful, clean, hospitable, and rich with touristic sites; the perfect incentives for visitors to stay.

Conclusively, there is a historic shortcoming in regards to the Jordanian tourism sector. At the same time, when Egypt spends USD100 million to promote their once-prosperous tourism sector —before the “Arab Spring”, Jordan spends USD5 million, tops, here! Which is why the Egyptians succeeded in past, while we failed. And even after the revolutionary storms Jordan weathered in peace, providing a model steady country, we still fall short in regards to marketing our Country! The global perception, popularly at least, is that we are like Syria, Iraq, and other unstable weak countries! Maybe because western media covers only news on war and conflict, which doubles our responsibility to change this impression; which is definitely not an easy task.