Jordan, which saw a decline in tourist arrivals from US and European countries due to the recent political unrest, is seeing India as a big market to boost tourism.
“India is a new and emerging market for us and we hope to see it in the top five markets in future in terms of tourist inflow,” Nayef H Alfayez, managing director of Jordan Tourism Board, who was here for the annual road show to promote Jordan tourism in India, said.
A total of 4.5 million tourists visited Jordan last year, which is a decline of 11-per cent over the previous year. While tourist inflow from Spain declined 60 per cent, from the US it was down 24 per cent.
However, the number is growing from countries like India and Scandinavia. “Tourist inflow from India grew 73 per cent in 2010 over the previous year, taking the number to 51,000. We have seen 29,000 arrivals from India in the first five months this year, which is a 43 per cent increase compared with the same period last year,” Alfayez said.
For Jordan, India is still a new market as it had started its marketing office here only in 2009. It expects India to soon become its top five destinations in terms of tourists inflow after US, UK, Germany and other European countries.
The country would focus more on family tourism by providing special packages and invite Bollywood for the shooting of films, he added.
The major factors attracting Indian tourists are Jordan’s food, culture, better air connectivity and the eased visa restrictions. “Earlier, there were restrictions, but now a tourist (from India and China) can avail of the visa at the arrival,” he said. The Royal Jordanian operates four weekly flights to Delhi and three to Mumbai.
The major attractions in the country are the dead sea, which is now among the Seven Wonders of the world, and historical ruins of the city of Petra, Jerash, Karak, Mount Nebo and the Madaba.
Jordan, a small country with only six million population, started its tourism activity just 10-15 years ago. The sector started growing after the participation and investment from the private sector and is now the second largest revenue generator in the country.
“The tourism market has grown to $ 3.5 billion (2.4 Jordan dinar), which was less than $ 1-billion a few years ago. It is now contributing 14 per cent to the country’s GDP and we hope the sector will soon become the number one contributor to the GDP,” he said.