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JORDAN TO CREATE “GOLDEN ZONE” FOR VACCINATED TRAVELLERS

Jordan is planning to create a virus-free “golden zone” for tourists that will include Wadi Rum, Petra and the Dead Sea.

Minister of Communications and Media Affairs Sakher Dudin said: “We are working with all partners to ensure the implementation of unified regional protocols to ensure the safety and ease of movement of tourists and citizens.”

However, Dudin admitted that the situation is difficult, saying hospitals in Amman and the centre of Jordan are approaching dangerous levels of patient saturation. “Our ICU beds are 76% occupied and this is a red flag that is of major concern,” he said.

Tourism, which was greatly impacted due to the pandemic, is one of the major sources of revenue for Jordan. According to data from Jordan’s central bank, the country’s tourism revenues hit €4.9bn in 2019, 10.2% higher than in 2018, and there were 4.5 million overnight visitors, 8.1% higher than in 2018. Overall, in 2019, the sector grew by 7.6% y/y, which was 1.6% higher than the global average increase of 6%. Around 40% of Jordan’s tourism revenue comes from the Jordanian diaspora.

Dudin expects that by the end of March, Jordan will obtain enough vaccines to place the nation on a firm standing for the coming tourist season. “We expect that by the end of this month we will have three million doses of vaccines, and if we work hard we should get to the summer with a much better health situation,” he said.

Jordanians are being inoculated at the rate of 20,000 a day and Mr Dudin believes that the medical teams will be able to deliver as many as 50,000 jabs a day. 753,000 people have registered to be vaccinated.

Jordan’s Tourism Strategy 2020-2025 sets the path to achieving the nation’s vision to be a year-round stand-alone destination of choice for international, regional and domestic visitors. Lina Al Khaled, Project Leader at the Jordan Inbound Tour Operators Association (JITOA), says Jordan is in an excellent position to embrace adventure tourism, while yet adventure products are in their infancy there.

“For Jordan to become a regional destination for adventure travel, a robust private sector-led effort is required. The economic potential of adventure tourism must be assessed, and a legislative framework must be put in place,” said Khaled. “The Jordan Tourism Strategy 2020-2025 has not been officially published due to the COVID pandemic. Provisions are being made to adjust the strategy to include a COVID-19 response adjustment and part re-write. Prioritised tourism products are culture and heritage tourism, adventure tourism, religious tourism, health and wellness tourism in addition to the focus on developing domestic tourism.”

“Jordan offers a high number of excellent guided and self-guided hikes and trails,” adds Khaled. “They range from easy to moderate and challenging. The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) provides many opportunities for adventure travellers to explore the Kingdom on foot via Wild Jordan, a registered trademark of the RSCN.”

Khaled says investment, particularly related to improving tourism products, services and facilities, is needed to achieve a better degree of competitiveness.

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