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WTM 2013: Jordan to tap into food and family market

Jordan looking to further tap into niche markets as it aims to bounce back from a slight dip in tourist numbers for 2013.

Tourism in the Middle East has suffered in recent years and the escalating conflict in Syria has made things difficult for its neighbours.

However, Dr Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat, managing director of the Jordan Tourism Board, remains optimistic.

“Let’s say that we had a slight drop in the number of tourists for 2013 due to the fact that we witnessed some news in the media and they grouped Jordan with countries that have these problems,” he said.

“As you know Jordan is a safe country and we proved that we are safe.”

Despite the fall, certain countries actually saw an increase.

Between January and September British tourist numbers increased 1% year on year, while numbers from Germany increased 38% mainly because of a rise in cruise passengers in the port city of Aqaba.

“Now we are optimistic and I think that the growth will [continue] increasing for the next year due to the fact that we are focusing on certain experiences and niche segments like food and family.”

Dr Arabiyat said the tourist board’s budget would remain more or less frozen with a focus on social media and e-marketing.

Unrest in the region has led to Jordan to change its strategy. For short-haul markets instead of grouping together the Syria and Lebanon it is now going it alone.

“That’s why we reacted by selling Jordan as a standalone destination and I think we succeeded in that,” he said.

And in long-haul markets it is now selling together with Dubai and Turkey.

Next year will see a number of new hotel openings in the country. The Hilton Dead Sea Resort and Spa is due to open its doors in 2014 as is the Boulevard Rotana Arjaan in Amman.

Elsewhere, after nearly three decades of planning the $25 million, 10,000-square-metre Jordan Museum is now open.

Groundbreaking has also begun for the new $1.5 billion Red Sea Astrarium entertainment complex, with construction expected to begin next year. Source: www.ttgdigital.com/