The Arab Spring impacts Jordan
As the travel market experienced some significant changes in the Middle East region, resulting from the Arab Spring’s impact on key tourism markets, Jordan has seen tourism flows decline since 2011. The second half of 2012 seemed to point towards a recovery, and yet the decline continued. The major issue has been the war in neighbouring Syria, which has been keeping tourists away from the Levant as a whole. That said, Jordan itself is a relatively safe destination, and although tourism from Europe continues to decline, travellers from Arab countries are on the rise, as they move away from troubled destinations like Syria, Egypt, Lebanon.
Niche is the name of the game
Jordan is a country of great diversity, offering varied experiences to tourists. It is home to some of the greatest archaeological and historical sites in the world, and offers health and wellness, adventure, ecotourism, diving and many more opportunities. This has not only made the country attractive to a very diverse tourist base, but has also created unique opportunities for travel retailers to specialise in key areas, targeting niche markets to enhance their profitability. While many travel agencies offer a diversity of tourism experiences at once, there are also some emerging agencies that specialise.
Air transportation’s increased competitive pressure
Air transportation in Jordan has seen some significant changes since the signing of the Euro-Mediterranean Aviation Agreement in 2010. Under this agreement, Jordan moved towards liberalising its air transportation and implementing open skies policies with key European markets. This created increased competitive pressure, which has had an impact on national carrier Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJA). RJA had to downsize its operations, cancelling some key routes and decreasing flight frequency on others. RJA blamed a decline in revenues on higher fuel costs and the Arab Spring, and the carrier is increasingly likely to have to reduce its fleet size. But the open skies agreements are good news for the country’s travel industry as a whole, since it will most likely see new carriers target Jordanian airports.
Hotels suffer but supply increases
Hotels suffered from a decline in tourism arrivals in 2011 and 2012. This was marked by a decline in average prices because of the increasing competitive pressure and fewer visitors. However, this did not stop investors resuming their development plans in Jordan, as more new outlets came to the market in 2011 and 2012. Supply in the Dead Sea area has increased significantly during the review period and more international chains continue to target the country, including Amman, the Dead Sea and increasingly, Aqaba.
Luring the Arabs
The future for travel and tourism in Jordan will see improvements, although Jordan is going through a difficult time in early 2013 because of regional tensions. That said, it may be time for Jordan to turn towards the GCC and Middle East more than ever before, as Europeans, Americans and Westerners in general become fearful about the region. Arabs are fleeing destinations like Egypt and Lebanon, and are an ideal target for Jordan to consider. They are high spenders and have the potential to become loyal, repeat visitors.
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