By Fares Braizat, Nov 06, 2022

The contribution of international tourism to the total value of services and commodities of the Jordanian economy increased from an average of 26.1 percent in 2000-2005 to 41.8 percent in 2019. Although this growth is mirrored in other sectors, tourism remains the most promising in terms of growth and employment opportunities as it recovers steadily and the number of arrivals increases exponentially, nearing 2019 numbers.

For the sector to evolve, the current Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (MoTA) strategy needs to continue to be implemented and to become part of the economic vision 2033. MoTA has been working on that and produced a significant road map with a specific array of ambitious, yet very reasonable, projects.

Carrying out these projects requires allocation from the public budget and private sector investment. While the government can allocate some of its resources from its capital expenditure, the private sector needs to be encouraged to step in to fill the vacuum. 

The operational national tourism strategy and the economic vision 2033 identified several intervention areas to enhance the contribution of the tourism sector to the economy and to create 99,000 economic opportunities in the sector by 2033. These opportunities can only be created by giving the private sector access to develop and operate tourist sites — much easier than it was given so far.

This could make not only the tourist sites, but the country as a whole ready to receive visitors. While some of the major sites are ready or almost ready, others with huge potential need major investments to rehabilitate and provide badly needed services. 

The 52 Islamic sites, shrines of prophets and of companions of the prophet, and the 34 locations mentioned in the Bible are in need of a proper makeover and specific targeted marketing. The public budget allocations will never be enough to make these locations visitor ready. 

A slow piecemeal approach to rehabilitation, due to lack of financial resources, will not deliver the expected targets. The country and its unemployed youth cannot afford to miss the opportunity to unleash the tourist potential of the country.  

Faith-based tourism is linked to spiritual and wellness tourism, which are associated to a global trend of meditation tourism. These components need investment to develop meditation sites and fixed regular programs throughout the year. Season-sensitive meditation programs are of great value to address conventional seasonality and fluctuations in the tourism industry.

All the above requires the county to be “proudly” visitor-ready. The level of cleanliness of roadsides leading to tourist sites leaves a lot to be desired. Frequent complaints from tourists are, first, related to cleanliness and, second, to advanced professional hospitality skills. Municipalities across the country must do more at any rate.

The evolution of the sector must be maintained and facilitated beyond the conventional understanding of its role and day-to-day business. To his credit, the current minister of tourism managed to secure relatively substantial financial resources to boost the sector, but a lot more is still needed for the sector to realize its potential and expectations set in the economic vision 2033.    

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

This article was originally published in Jordan News on November 06, 2022. For the original article source, click here