MAR­KET UP­DATE

IN­DUS­TRY EX­PERTS PUT JOR­DAN UN­DER THE SPOT­LIGHT

HotelNews Middle East - - Contents -

There is ev­ery rea­son to be op­ti­mistic about the fu­ture of tourism in Jor­dan. That op­ti­mism is driven by a num­ber of fac­tors, not least a gov­ern­ment driven ini­tia­tive to in­crease the coun­try’s ap­peal as a tourist des­ti­na­tion.

Christo­pher Hewett, di­rec­tor at TRI con­sult­ing, says that while it is a chal­leng­ing time for coun­tries in the Mid­dle East there are clear signs of en­cour­age­ment.

“We are see­ing growth in Jor­dan. If you look at Pe­tra there has been a huge in­crease in vis­i­tors to the re­gion – a 44% in­crease from Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary last year,” he says.

“The gov­ern­ment there is look­ing at cre­at­ing what they are call­ing the Jor­dan trail, look­ing at key ar­eas across the coun­try to high­light the best tourism spots and cre­ate an in­creased sense of con­fi­dence among tourists.”

Elias J Moukarzel, gen­eral man­ager Hil­ton Dead Sea Re­sort and Spa, also said there was an em­pha­sis from the Min­istry of Tourism on at­tract­ing vis­i­tors to the re­gion.

“The Min­istry of Tourism is cen­ter­ing its ef­forts on the im­prove­ment of Jor­dan’s on­line pres­ence, along with the dis­tri­bu­tion of brochures tar­geted to the Asian and Euro­pean mar­kets,” says Moukarzel.

“The min­istry has fo­cused its mar­ket­ing on shar­ing the many types of ex­pe­ri­ences that Jor­dan has to of­fer, with a strong fo­cus on re­li­gious and ad­ven­ture tourism.”

Jor­dan is a coun­try that is rich in cul­ture, says Moukarzel, with a num­ber of nat­u­ral won­ders.

“Jor­dan’s lo­ca­tion at the cross­roads of the world ap­peals to both pan Ara­bic re­gional and in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions,” he says.

“We also of­fer a strong lo­gis­tics and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­fra­struc­ture and our amaz­ing mod­er­ate weather. Our air­line con­nec­tions are very strong and the re­cently ren­o­vated Queen Alia In­ter­na­tional Air­port has also played a ma­jor role in in­creas­ing the num­ber of ar­rivals.”

An­other ex­am­ple of Jor­dan’s in­no­va­tion, says Moukarzel, is the open­ing of 14 new air travel routes which is ex­pected to bring up to 500,000 tourists per year.

There are chal­lenges how­ever, some­thing that is no dif­fer­ent than any other mar­ket, what is unique though is the na­ture of those chal­lenges.

“It is in a lo­ca­tion that is chal­leng­ing, the un­rest that has been hap­pen­ing in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries like Syria and

Le­banon has left Jor­dan some­what iso­lated,” says Hewett.

“It is fac­ing a PR chal­lenge, to some ex­tent, to prove that it is a very safe coun­try to travel to de­spite what is go­ing on around it. That is the real chal­lenge be­cause it is an ex­tremely safe coun­try but it is in a volatile area.”

He adds that Jor­dan’s po­si­tion­ing be­side coun­tries with un­rest has had a detri­men­tal im­pact on per­for­mance.

“Be­ing so iso­lated has made it dif­fi­cult to main­tain any con­sis­tency,” he says.

“The last 12 months have been a chal­lenge. Av­er­age room rates are down by 8% com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year.”

The po­lit­i­cal un­rest in the re­gion is not the sole rea­son for the dif­fi­cult con­di­tions in the Jor­da­nian mar­ket – as Hewett ex­plains.

“If you look at the per­for­mance of var­i­ous re­gions, Europe had a very strong year in 2017, the ho­tel mar­ket there per­formed well there across the board,” he says.

“The Mid­dle East un­for­tu­nately had the op­po­site ex­pe­ri­ence. A lot of key in­di­ca­tors were down last year.

“Over­all rev­enues in ho­tels is sim­i­lar to the drop in REVPAR at around 6.1%. That drop, on top of rev­enue, cou­pled with rel­a­tively fixed ex­penses has seen profit mar­gins drop as well.”

Moukarzel em­pha­sises the coun­try’s rep­u­ta­tion as a beloved des­ti­na­tion for tourists.

“Jor­dan has long been re­garded as one of the world’s top des­ti­na­tions for tourism as it hosts some of the world’s most renowned nat­u­ral and man­made won­ders in­clud­ing five world her­itage sites,” he says.

“Tourism is one of the key in­dus­tries in Jor­dan, con­tribut­ing sig­nif­i­cantly as one of the coun­try’s main eco­nomic pil­lars. In re­cent years, Jor­dan has gar­nered even more in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion, which al­lowed the coun­try to fur­ther pro­mote it­self as a stand­alone des­ti­na­tion to global au­di­ences not just for leisure but also for busi­ness travel.”

Hewett says the Jor­da­nian gov­ern­ment is ac­tively tar­get­ing tourists from key source mar­kets in­clud­ing Europe and the USA.

“Jor­dan con­tin­ues to main­tain a rep­u­ta­tion as a peace­ful, safe tourist des­ti­na­tion, ideal for busi­ness and leisure trav­ellers alike,” says Moukarzel.

“The gov­ern­ment of Jor­dan, along with the Tourism Board, have in­ten­si­fied ef­forts in re­cent years to con­tinue pro­mot­ing Jor­dan as the ideal des­ti­na­tion.

“We wit­nessed a very healthy growth in the num­ber of tourists dur­ing the past num­ber of years, mainly from the Asia- Pa­cific re­gion, fol­lowed by North Amer­ica and Europe.”

Elias J Moukarzel, Hil­ton Dead Sea Re­sort & Spa gen­eral man­ager

Hil­ton Dead Sea Re­sort & Spa

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