Jordan revives tourism

Tourists in Petra (Jordan), December 12, 2022.

Between January and early May, more than 500,000 people came to admire the tombs and temples carved into the pink sandstone cliffs of Petra. Located in the south of Jordan, the Nabataean city is both the barometer and the locomotive of tourism in the country. Suffice to say that the increase in its attendance, mostly from foreign visitors, delights hoteliers, guides and restaurateurs from the capital, Amman, to the port city of Aqaba, on the Red Sea. Nationally, during the first quarter, more than 1.4 million international tourists were registered, confirming the momentum started in 2022.

The return of travelers is providential for an economy that has been hit hard for more than a decade by the effect of successive crises, from the war in Syria to the repercussions of the conflict in Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic. . The country, which benefits from an aid program from the International Monetary Fund, has certainly experienced a rebound of 2.2% in its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021. But the deterioration of the indicators, with a debt which reaches approximately 114% of the GDP and unemployment which affects almost one out of two young Jordanians, has caused repeated social convulsions. The latest, the strike of truck drivers which had briefly slowed down activity in the country, at the end of 2022.

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“Jordan suffers from a double deficit, the current account and the budget. The latter led to increased indebtedness. More debt means less stability, notes Jordanian economist Ahmad Awad, who heads the Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies in Amman. The resumption of tourism will have a positive impact on the economy, in particular with the injection of foreign currency. »

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The sector represents between 10 and 13% of the country’s GDP. In 2022, it brought in 5.3 billion dollars (4.8 billion euros), and the authorities are counting on an increase in these revenues this year. Given what is at stake, they have spared no effort to attract visitors: 71 million Jordanian dinars (91 million euros) have been allocated to the promotion of tourism in the 2023 budget. campaigns mainly highlight Petra. Permits have been granted to increase hotel capacity in the “pink city”, and occasional attractions are organized there. Local tourism officials aim to p the million tourist mark, which was crossed in 2019.

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