AMMAN, Jordan — Authorities are ready with a plan to best utilize the upcoming tourism season this summer.
At a meeting with His Majesty King Abdullah on Tuesday, stakeholders said all is set to receive summer guests, who include Gulf tourists and hundreds of thousands of Jordanian expatriates who arrive home to spend the summer holiday.
The King asked tourism authorities and other concerned parties to coordinate and intensify efforts to maximize the yield of the current season and facilitate the entry and stay of visitors.
During the meeting, the King highlighted the significance of the tourism sector, which contributes 13 percent of the gross domestic product and earned the Kingdom more than JD2 billion last year, and the need to enhance the image of Jordan as a major tourist destination, according to a Royal Court statement.
The attendees took turns to present their views on how to best utilize Jordan’s attractions and outlined their contributions to the implementation of this year’s action plan.
Interior Minister Ghaleb Zu’bi said his ministry is revisiting procedures of entry, especially for tourists who are required to obtain a visa to come to Jordan. Authorities are also looking into the possibility of canceling some fees levied on visitors, he said.
Facilities and incentives offered to Arab tourists are already in place, such as fees of entry to tourist sites that are equal to those paid by Jordanians, according to Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Nayef Al Fayez, who said new incentives include an increase in the number of vehicles Arabs are allowed to bring into the Kingdom.
Representing the Public Security Department (PSD), Lt. General Mohammad Raqad, who is deputy PSD chief, said instructions have already been issued to accelerate border procedures for visitors.
For his part, Chairman of the Federation of Tourism Associations and Jordan Hotels Association Michael Nazzal noted that there are 28,000 tourist attractions in Jordan.
Turning to the promotion plan, he underlined the proficiency of employees in the hospitality sector and the series of cultural and art festivals planned for the summer as essential elements to enhance Jordan’s image and attract more visitors.
Meanwhile, preparations are under way to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Petra, said Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority Chief Commissioner Mohammad Abul Ghanam, adding that there are plans to use one ticket for all Petra facilities.
On Jerash Festival, the head of the higher committee overseeing the cultural event, Aqel Biltaji, said all is set to make this year’s festival a major attraction.
Customs Department Director Major General Ghaleb Sarayreh said his agency has delegated more authorities to directors of customs stations to take decisions on the spot to address emerging situations.
Last year, around 4 million overnight visitors entered the Kingdom, according to official figures.