Jordan’s Grumpy Tourism

تم نشره في Sun 1 May / May 2016. 01:35 PM
  • Tourism in Jordan

Firas Ahmad Salameh

Over coffee with a frequent visitor at the Intercontinental Amman Hotel in Jabal Amman, we exchanged admiration about Jordan’s weather and briefly touched on Jordan’s tourism sector, which sparked a complaint about the standards of services in Petra; a member of the world’s seven wonders being left to greet a visiting family with instances of garbage across the site.


 At a time when regional powers are busy confronting violent extremism and consolidating fiscal policies in light of unprecedented drop in global oil prices, Jordan must work flat out to further develop its tourism sector, a key priority that has eluded the central government in Amman for decades.


 With the region’s future looking as inconsistent as a Roulette wheel, Jordan’s bargaining chip is tourism. The sector’s success is traditionally underpinned by infrastructure, strategic location, along with safety and security. And, while Jordan ticks all the traditional boxes, it severely lacks a vital pillar to the sector’s growth: fostering a social environment that prioritises tourists’ interests. The good old serious bloke delivering tea, coffee, and shisha to tourists – either foreign or local - no longer reflects meaningful steps needed to develop Jordan’s tourism sector. 


 The footage of Amman’s hustle and bustle restaurants and cafés, where, apparently, few places no longer accept advanced bookings due to a large volume of food aficionados, interestingly contradicts the trotting of donkeys and mules round Petra. Over lunch and beverage, the elites of Amman indulge in talks about Jordan’s security and stability. Jordan’s exceptional role in preserving security and stability has not only dominated chit-chats across Amman but also pigeonholed wider, meaningful development efforts in other sectors.


 Indeed, security and stability alone will not allow the Kingdom to create 70,000 jobs every year to prevent unemployment from skidding. So, while the new marketing campaign about Jordan rolls out on the front doors of Dubai’s cabs, we must roll up our sleeves to identify how we will receive new levels of tourists. For starters, visitors now pay less to tour the country, but should we charge ourselves more courtesy to guarantee a fulfilling stay for all?


 The chronicle of events in the region demonstrates the importance of crafting policies that match the country’s social, political, and economic landscape. Exhibiting accomplishments of other countries in the region and alluding to borrow strategies will not work to improve Jordan’s economy and drive growth across key sectors – services and tourism. Indeed, Jordan has essential components that allow it to develop its very own – unique – model that builds on the principles of preserving security and stability for all. It is exactly these principles that must inform other aspects of development in order to guarantee opportunity for Jordan’s highly-skilled youth.