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Jordan thanks travel trade for ongoing support

  • Air
  •   05-13-2015  11:06 am

Jordan thanks travel trade for ongoing support

Despite strong tourism numbers from Canada last year, there’s still room for more in Jordan.

That message was front and centre this week, as the Jordan Tourism Board thanked members of the travel trade for their ongoing support with a reception at the gallery of renowned Toronto photographer George Fischer, who has captured the many sides of the country in his work.

According to Malia Asfour, director of the Jordan Tourism Board in North America, while the U.S. and Canada were the number one and two growth markets for Jordan last year, all other countries showed a decline in tourist numbers, she said, due in large part to the media depiction of ongoing conflicts in parts of the Middle East. As Asfour quipped, Jordan is “caught between Iraq and a hard place,” adding that while there are many travellers who are aware that Jordan is not facing the same ordeals as some of its neighbours, there is a substantial number of travellers avoiding the entire region because of news reports - a situation the board is safeguarding against in Canada.

“The more educated and sophisticated traveller knows about our part of the world and knows that Jordan is an oasis of piece, it’s just in a bad neighbourhood,” she told PAX. “We’re victims of misperception due in part to exaggerations by some of the media. That doesn’t help us but we’ve demonstrated that we’re a land of peace and tranquility and the peacemakers in the region.”

To draw more travellers, Asfour said the board is actively working through the travel trade to promote Jordan due to agents' direct contact with clients, a strategy which includes FAM trips allowing industry members to see the destination firsthand and report back to colleagues and customers alike.

Ryan McCann, assistant manager, Corporate TravellerRyan McCann, assistant manager of Corporate Traveller, was among the participants in the most recent FAM to Jordan, which concluded last week. He told PAX that the destination yielded many surprises, totally different from the common portrayal of the Middle East.

“I’ve never been to Jordan or the Middle East or seen that geography or culture, so everything was a secret or surprise there,” he said. “I felt safe and very welcome. This FAM really struck home with me because there was a lot to share and truths to be told. Especially in North America, that region of the world is being portrayed as unsafe and Jordan is unfortunately being pulled into that cyclone.”

While the ancient stone city of Petra, perhaps the country’s most iconic attraction, continues to enchant and draw travellers from around the world, Asfour said that Canadian travellers in particular are drawn to the wide range of geography and nature found in Jordan, from the fertile north where the remains of the Roman city of Jerash still stand; to the deserts of the south and the famed Wadi Rum, a protected natural area and home to a burgeoning eco- and adventure tourism scene; to the Jordan Valley and the otherworldly landscape of the Dead Sea. With 35,000 arrivals in 2014, Canada is Jordan’s fifth most important source market, Asfour said, behind the U.S., U.K., France and Germany.

“Petra is our icon – everyone wants to go there, since it’s an amazing world wonder,” she said. “But what also attracts the Canadian consumer is nature. We’re very diverse in terms of geography and I believe that’s what attracts Canadians travellers.”

PHOTO: George Fischer; Malia Asfour, director, Jordan Tourism Board - North America; Frank & Marie LaFleche, market development - Canada, Jordan Tourism Board - North America.