The excavated remains of the site where John the Baptist baptized Jesus in 'Bethany beyond the Jordan' / Photo by David Bjorgen
The first quarter of 2010 heralded good news for Jordan’s tourism sector in what could be another landmark year. Statistics by the ministry of tourism and antiquities and the by the Central Bank of Jordan show across-the-board increases in both visitor numbers, as well as tourism receipts.
The ministry of tourism said overnight tourist numbers have jumped 33.4 percent during the first quarter to 883,450 people from a total of 662,075 in the same period of 2009. Same-day visitors were up 17.6 percent to 651,325 people from 553,929 in 2009. The ministry said overall numbers in the first quarter totaled 1,534,802 visitors compared to 1,216,004 in the same period of 2009 and representing a jump of 26.2 percent.
With the exception of African visitors whose numbers have declined by 5 percent, all other regions have witnessed increasing numbers particularly from Europe. American visitors increased by 8.7 percent, Asia-Pacific nationals by 27 percent, South Asians by 29.4 percent, Arabs by 20.8 percent, and Europeans by 35.5 percent.
Figures by the Central Bank of Jordan show that tourism receipts in the first quarter went up by 39.7 percent to 503 million Jordanian Dinar (US$701 million) from 360 million (US$501 million) in the same period of 2009 – a increase of US$200 million.
Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) managing director Nayef H. al-Fayez expressed great pleasure at the figures and said, “They have given Jordan’s tourism industry a very good reason to keep smiling.”
Mr. al-Fayez said, “While we look forward to a landmark season, we are confident that interest in Jordan as a unique and diversified international destination is increasing across the world.” He added that JTB’s participation in recent exhibitions and road shows, “Has given us a distinctive look at the increased confidence visitors have in Jordan both as a country and as destination for a trip of a lifetime.”
Wadi Rum / Photo by David Bjorgen
Jordan’s numerous touristic sites have reported increased visitor activity during 2010’s first quarter compared with the same period of 2009. Petra, the Kingdom’s jewel in the crown, saw an almost 50 percent increase in visitors. However, the biggest attraction was Mount Nebo with an 88 percent increase, followed by Madaba’s map with a 72 percent increase. Visitor numbers went up 32.5 percent in Jerash, 47.4 percent in Kerak, 41.2 percent in Ajloun, 45.1 percent in Um-Qais, 40.3 percent in Wadi Rum, and 24.3 percent in the Baptism Site.
Baptism Site officials have said that this is the biggest single increase in visitor numbers since the site was officially opened in 2002. They said April 2010 alone has seen more than 20,100 visitors and pilgrims indicating a growing appetite for the location, as well as for religious tourism as a main component of Jordan’s diverse tourism product.
Tourism officials said a very good season in 2010 will mean that Jordan’s tourism industry is on track and in the right direction, particularly after avoiding the impact of the global economic crisis, which started in 2008.
Jordan has fared quite well in 2009 despite the difficult times witnessed by the global tourism industry, which included both the global financial crisis, as well as the H1N1 virus pandemic. Tourism revenues remained almost unchanged at JD2.064 billion (around US$3 billion) compared with 2.089 in 2008, while overnight visitor numbers increased by 1.6 percent in 2008.
Al-Fayez said for a small country like Jordan, maintaining 2008 figures was a great achievement. “Now we can focus on making 2010 another exceptional year,” he concluded.