People, Travel

Jordan Tourism Stable Despite Militant Attacks

 Jordan last year hosted 3.8 million foreign visitors. Jordan last year hosted 3.8 million foreign visitors.

Jordan’s tourism sector has proved resilient with revenues stable at $4 billion in 2016 against the previous year despite several militant attacks, the tourism minister said.

Jordan last year hosted 3.8 million foreign visitors who spent at least one night in the country, which marks a rise of 2.6% from the previous year, Lina Annab told reporters.

Annab said the sector was so far able to cushion itself from the repercussions of an attack last month in the southern city of Karak, with few signs of any significant drop in tourist arrivals from the region or Europe, AAP reported.

“It’s business as usual and the cancellations have been minimal. Unfortunately, as for danger, there is no place that is 100% safe,” she said.

Despite the increase in the number of visitors, the sector’s revenues in 2016 remained similar to those of 2015 due to changes in the origin of tourists, and consequently their spending habits, said the minister.

While the number of tourists from most regions saw an increase, the number of visitors from Persian Gulf Arab countries dropped by 10%, Jordan Times reported.

Officials said this was due to the economic measures the Saudi government is taking to cut down expenses, which has influenced the travel decisions of Saudis, who comprise the largest portion of visitors from the Middle East.

More than a dozen people were killed, including a Canadian tourist, in two attacks by militants in December in the southern city of Karak. The self-styled Islamic State terrorist group claimed the violence.

Three American servicemen were killed by a Jordanian guard in November. Washington issued a travel warning to Americans travelling to Jordan because of threats from militant groups, which Jordanian officials criticized as unnecessary.

Annab said her ministry was trying to offset any potential fallout by encouraging more Christian religious tourists to visit biblical sites and promoting the country as a regional hub for medical tourism.

Officials say the kingdom has drawn bigger numbers of tourists from Persian Gulf Arab states in recent years, who have made up for the drop in package tours by European operators coming to the region due to political turmoil.

Tourism is one of the country’s main sources of foreign currency and constitutes around 10% of the country’s GDP. Investors have poured billions of dollars in the past decade into a string of hotels across the country.

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