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Tuesday, 07 August, 2018, 13 : 13 PM [IST]

‘Target is to increase the length of stay of visitors from India’

Fighting against turmoil in the region, Jordan continues to attract a large chunk of travellers from around the world who visit the destination to experience its diverse landscapes and attractions. From India alone, the Jordan Tourism Board ( JTB) recorded 26.6% increase in arrivals in 2017. Dr. Abed Al Razzaq Issam Arabiyat, Managing Director, JTB, in an e-mail interaction with Anurag Tiwari, discusses the way forward to position Jordan as a favourable destination for travellers across all segmen

QQuite a few internationally acclaimed media platforms have listed Jordan as “one of the top places to visit in 2018”. Apart from major sites like Petra, the Dead Sea and Wadi Rum, which are the other attractions which have helped achieve this feat?
Jordan is full of attractions and experiences that suit all kinds of traveller interests. The JTB since 2017 has focused on promoting specific segments and experiences in order to meet the needs and different interests of travellers. The segments that the JTB is targeting are faith, MICE, history and culture, adventure and medical and wellness. Focus remains on delivering experiences in order to allow travellers to experience the destination and not just visit the sites.

QJordan’s tourism receipts currently stand at JD 3 billion which the Tourism Ministry of Jordan expects to double by 2022. What concrete steps are being undertaken to meet this goal in key tourism source markets?
The JTB has set a 3-year strategy, with a focus on marketing the tourism segments. Critical to the strategy is repositioning Jordan’s tourism brand to increase its power to transcend the misperceptions about Jordan and reflect the exceptional experiences available to travellers in Jordan.

With a focus on segmentation and brand, the JTB will attract more visitors from its highest potential core international markets, increase the number of visitor nights in Jordan and increase the yield from these travellers.

QIn the past few years, because of the political instability in the region, rise in terror activities, and the growing refugee crisis, international tourism into Jordan has been affected largely because of the problem of perception. How are you addressing this concern to the international tourism market?
Jordan is unfortunate in being surrounded within a region of turmoil, which has affected the number of tourists travelling to Jordan, as they are avoiding visiting the whole region. However, Jordan remains to be a stable country and welcomes tourists from all over the world. The JTB continues to be present in all markets to create awareness among travellers whether through marketing campaigns or media, showing people that Jordan is a safe haven and differentiating Jordan as a destination from the neighboring countries.

QIn 2015, the Jordan government waived visa fees for all non-restricted nationalities coming through Jordanian tour operators whether travelling individually or in groups. How much has this benefitted your foreign tourist arrival numbers, and which countries have been the top contributors? How has been the performance from the Indian market in terms of visitor arrivals since this change in visa regime?
Not only did the JTB waive the visa entry for tourist groups, but also removed the restrictions on some of the nationalities such as India and China. This has led to an increase in visitor numbers in 2017, in comparison to previous years. The total number of visitors from the Indian market was 57,720 in 2016, and 73,066 in 2017, a 26.6% increase.

QIn terms of promoting Jordan in the international markets, what is your global marketing strategy? How does it differ from your plan for India?
The global strategy focuses on the different segments of tourism in Jordan as well as charters and incentive schemes. For the Indian market, the JTB focuses on increasing the length of stay of visitors as well as focuses on movie productions, MICE and faith tourism.

QIn terms of promotions and marketing in the Indian market, Jordan Tourism Board appointed Think Strawberries as its India representative in 2013. How fruitful has this association been?
Since India is an emerging market with a huge population and a growing economy, especially in the IT sector, there is immense potential for MICE tourism, faith tourism, weddings and movie production. It is a necessity to have a representative to be in continuous contact with the tourism sector and corporations, and Think Strawberries is very capable of executing the marketing strategies and plans as assigned.

QWith Royal Jordanian pulling out from the Indian market, and in the absence of direct air connectivity, how do you plan to improve tourist traffic from India? Moreover, how are you positioning Jordan in India as an attractive proposition beyond the established destinations?
In addition to the regular leisure business (history and culture), and despite Jordan being a small country, it is quite diverse with its landscapes and attractions which attract film producers globally. On another note, Christianity started in Jordan and it is the place where Jesus was baptized, hence is an opportunity to tap into faith tourism in the Indian market. Having 5 UNESCO world heritage sites makes Jordan stand out from the other destination within the region.

As for accessibility, the JTB has agreements with international airlines such as Etihad and Emirates, amongst others, in addition to lowcost- carriers such as Air Arabia, all of which fly to Jordan. JTB is also in the process of negotiating with the Indian low-cost-carriers that would possibly show interest in Jordan as a destination, especially with Jordan being able to attract major low-costcarriers to the destination, such as Ryan Air.

anurag.tiwari@saffronsynergies.in
 
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