Low-cost airlines to revive Jordan tourism

Petra fully booked as airlines launch new flights

26 October, 10:31

    (by Mohammad Ben Hussein) (ANSAmed) AMMAN, OCTOBER 26 - Jordan's ailing tourism sector is hoping to get a new lease on life following the launch of low-cost flights from Europe.

    Tourism authorities are seeking to place the country on the list of top destinations in the region.

    Tour operators and hospitality industry executives hope revenue will be generated and jobs created, officials said.

    Ryanair, Norwegian Air, EasyJet and Russian airlines will lead an influx of tourists to visit the kingdom's main attractions.

    Some of its main attractions include the unique rock engraved city of Petra, the port city of Aqaba and the famous Wadi Rum rocky desert as well as a plethora of Roman and Islamic era ruins across the eastern desert and northern region.

    Officials from the Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) believe the arrival of low-budget flights will mark a new era in the history of the country's tourism industry.

    "These flights will place Jordan at a budge price for all European travelers. We are expecting an influx of tourists from all around Europe," said Ala al Hindi, digital marketing director at JTB.

    ''Jordan is currently working on improving the variety of options available to tourists to meet the demands of various types of travelers," he told ANSA.

    As of November 1st, the eagerly awaited flights of Ryanair will be in full swing between Amman and major European destinations, with 26 flights from Italy, Poland, Cyprus, Lithuania, Belgium, Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic to Amman. The carrier will also fly to the Red Sea city of Aqaba, with eight flights per week from Greece, Italy, Bulgaria and Germany to Aqaba. Meanwhile, EasyJet is scheduled to start operating two flights per week from London and Berlin to Aqaba and Amman, while Norwegian Airlines currently operates two flights per week to Amman and will bring in an additional flight to Aqaba from Copenhagen.

    However, JTB officials said high-quality services must be implemented by tourism operators, while prices must remain within reach of middle class tourists.

    "The government needs to implement a robust monitoring system on hotels and restaurants in order to build a good reputation among tourists and travel operators," Hourani added.

    According to official estimates, price of a round-trip ticket from Amman to most of European destinations will drop from equivalent of USD 600 to USD 150 for the round trip.

    Following years of struggle, the tourism sector could be facing a new lease on life, as the kingdom is expected to serve as gateway to European and international travelers to the region.

    Meanwhile, the rock-engraved city of Petra has seen number of tourists jump to all-time record, with most hotels full capacity, said Hourani.

    "Currently, some people are renting caves to tourists to stay after all hotels became fully booked, with at least 2,000 tourists having booked in the 'Rose city'," said Hourani.

    The cash-strapped kingdom depends on tourism as one of its main sources of income, as official figures show it accounts for 14 percent of GDP.

    The development comes against the backdrop of listing Jordan by Lonely Planet as one of the 10 most attractive tourism destinations in the world. The renowned tourism platform took note of recent improvement in tourism infrastructure and services including Jordan trail and bike trail, which allow visitors to travel from north to south on foot or bikes while passing through breathtaking views.

    "There is a new Bike Trail complementing the Jordan Trail - a continuous route, offering 650 kilometers of beautiful hiking through myriad landscapes and terrains - as well as desert safaris at Shaumari Wildlife Reserve, and off-road routes snaking across the desolate Badia. There's never been a better time to visit," said Tom Hall, Lonely Planet's Editorial Director in a statement.

    The past five years have seen dozens of tour operators and hotels shut down as a result of the regional security situation.

    However, a recent improvement in the situation in Syria could help put the sector back on its feet.(ANSAmed).

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