By Fares Braizat, Apr 10,2022

The potential impact of tourism is not limited to a country’s economic development and cultural change, it has political, economic, and security possibilities and implications that go far beyond the borders of a nation. Hence, there is a need to integrate tourism-products internationally and regionally. 

For example, for Jordan the obvious links are religious tourism with Saudi Arabia and the churches of Jerusalem and beyond.

The potential of tourism as a socio-economic integration channel is not limited to bridging the gap between relatively well-to-do urban centers and economically underprivileged peripheries. In that respect, tourism has contributed significantly to bridging the gap in Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Tunis, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, Indonesia, Kenya, Colombia, Guatemala, and Costa Rica, to name a few. In these countries, tourism receipts are not only a major contributor to national income, they are also a major propeller of a more equitable income distribution as tourism impacts service providers outside the conventional locations of tourist activities.

In many of these countries, the full potential of impact-investment in tourism has not been satisfactorily realized. Jordan is no exception. The diversity of tourism products, from archeological, cultural, religious, nature, business (MICE), wellness, medical, astrological, to sky and water sports, film-related, exploration, and weather tourism has the potential to make Jordan a global destination. 

For this to happen, there is need of government-driven investment that creates an enabling environment, as well as of private-sector leadership in driving multilayer scalable projects. 

Youth-led initiatives are well under way in many parts of the country, but affordable access to land, financing, and cost of business (overregulation, cost of energy, and heavy bureaucracy) are still major hurdles that are pushing Jordanian investors away.

To be sure, the investor confidence index surveys conducted by NAMA and Jordan Strategy Forum found that only 5 percent of investors reported to have “expanded their business in Jordan in the past year” in January 2022, compared to 45 percent in May 2017. Moreover, those who said that they “reduced their business in the past year” in Jordan increased from 12 percent in May 2017 to 53 percent in January 2022. Tourism businesses may have done better than the overall, especially in 2019, but more is needed to solidify base and build confidence.  

In the troubled Middle East more economic integration is not only “nice to have” but a necessity for stability and prosperity. The established economic and trade agreements within the region and between countries in the region with global economic powers are yet to realize their potential. When the economic power houses of the region ignite their tourism potential, the industry in Jordan should gear up for constructive engagement. We cannot afford to miss the opportunity to expand our economy and generate jobs for our youth.  

After two years, partial and total lockdowns came to an end globally. Travelers are taking revenge. Global trends point to a sharp rise in the number of travelers and hotel bookings. Jordan is no exception to this global trend where global nomads, digital nomads, and free independent travelers are roaming the plains of planet earth. 

We should be able to make them “repeat visitors” or, even better, “frequent guests” that wish to experience Jordan’s diverse products. 

The writer is the Chairman of NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions, H.E. Dr. Fares Braizat. 

This article was originally published in Jordan News on April 10, 2022. For the original article source, click here

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