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    24-Jul-2022

It is all about tourism - By Khalid Dalal, Jordan News

 

 

The writer is a former advisor at the Royal Hashemite Court, former director of media and communication at the Office of His Majesty King Abdullah, and works currently as a senior advisor for media, strategic communication, PR, international cooperation, and business development locally, regionally and globally.
 
Last week, His Majesty King Abdullah, accompanied by HRH Crown Prince Al Hussein, visited the archaeological site at Umm Al-Jimal, in the Northern Badia region. The visit clearly intends to promote tourism destinations less famous than the iconic Petra and Wadi Rum.
 
 
 
The King and the Crown Prince also toured Umm Qais, Maan Castle, and Maan’s Old Souk these past months, in the course of visiting local communities.
 
The tours help bring into the spotlight destinations of high tourism value that need more aggressive marketing, including among local spenders who know little about these amazing places.
 
His Majesty’s visits are bound to spur both Jordanians and foreigners to indulge in new tourism experiences with different flavors. The Royal visits naturally encourage tourism and local authorities to gear up efforts and finish rehabilitation projects targeting these sites to render them more inviting to tourists.
 
During the visit to Umm Al-Jimal, “His Majesty was briefed by Tourism Minister Nayef Al-Fayez on the site’s history and the restoration work carried out by the Department of Antiquities in cooperation with Calvin University to equip the site to receive visitors”.
Reinvigorating the tourism sector means jobs for hundreds of thousands of people, and new means of livelihood. This is extremely important in a country where the unemployment rate stands at more than 23 percent.
In addition, the prominence given to the sites by the King’s tours helps promote them globally. In the case of Umm Al-Jimal, “King Abdullah stressed the importance of further developing (the site) to promote it as a potential World Heritage Site”.
 
Reinvigorating the tourism sector means jobs for hundreds of thousands of people, and new means of livelihood. This is extremely important in a country where the unemployment rate stands at more than 23 percent.
 
Actually, the ideas come mainly from the people themselves. In Umm Al-Jimal, the founders of the “Hand by Hand Heritage Umm Al-Jimal” initiative, established in 2018 to promote the site as a tourist destination, demonstrated this trend.
 
Presenting their project to the King, they “spoke about the services and experiences offered, including tours of the archaeological site and surrounding areas, offering recommendations and community-based accommodation for tourists, and providing training and awareness-raising to the local community”.
 
But above all, the Royal visits to tourism sites illustrate the leadership’s hands-on approach to the economic woes of the country, which have been exacerbated by two years of a crippling pandemic, an international economic crisis, and turbulence with the Russian-Ukrainian war.
 
The leadership is aware that Jordan’s recovery hinges on holistic economic reforms, which are already under way. They mainly include, along with tourism, the industrial, energy, and agricultural sectors.
 
What makes tourism a priority is that it is already a major contributor to GDP, and is showing strong signs of recovery, while reforms in other sectors need time to pay off.
 
This is why tourism authorities are in top gear in a drive to regain and surpass the pre-pandemic figures, of 2019 exactly, when the tourism sector hit a historical high, with an annual revenue of around $5.8 billion.
 
And that is why, for now, it is about building on the good news of tourism recovery to offset the economic setbacks, while working with a clear head to revive other productive sectors.
 
After all, tourism is our oil. We should all remember that, build on the Royal efforts, work hard, and promote our country.
 
 
Khalid Dalal is a former advisor at the Royal Hashemite Court, former director of media and communication at the Office of His Majesty King Abdullah, and works currently as a senior advisor for media, strategic communication, PR, international cooperation, and business development locally, regionally and globally.
 

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