Jordan experiences a first


DEAD SEA, Jordan (eTN) – The first ever Jordan Travelmart, being held at the King Hussein Bil Talal Convention Center in Jordan, is taking place beginning today, February 11.

The opening breakfast and official welcome couldn’t have started at a higher note, with Akel Biltaji, special advisor to His Majesty King Abdullah II of Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, leading over 250 delegates to sing. “Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day! I have a wonderful feeling everything’s going my way,” the group chanted.

It was indeed a wonderful morning, as delegates were treated to a delicious breakfast and were welcomed by Jordanian Tourism Minister Maha Khatib. “I am indeed honored to welcome you today where we are meeting for the first time to exchange views and ideas that will help develop our tourism product and a solid base for future cooperation,” she said.

Employment-wise, more than 33,000 Jordanians are directly employed and another 120,000 are indirectly employed in the Jordan’s tourism industry, according to Jordanian Tourism Minister Khatib.

“Our vision is for tourism to steer ahead Jordan’s economic growth to maximize social and economic benefits,” minister added. “Our industry is the largest generator of foreign currency after commodity and exports.”

“Tourism contributed US$2.3 billion to the Jordanian economy in 2007,” the Jordanian tourism minister said. This is equivalent to a 14.4 percent contribution to this Middle East country’s gross domestic product, making tourism the second biggest industry.

Another reason for the Jordanian government’s renewed commitment to tourism is the industry’s being a key factor in sustainable development. “Tourism is the major source for sustainable economic growth for our country.”

Jordan boasts a history that is connected to both the Greek and Roman empires. Such influences are to this day evident as one would come to find on a sightseeing tour. “Jordan is land of the Old Testament and the birthplace of civilization,” said Minister Khatib.

From the Dead Sea, Mount Nebo and Jerusalem, both of which have biblical ties, are visible, making Jordan “the sunrise of faith,” according to Biltaji.

The Jordan Tourism Board has decided to create the three-day Jordan Travelmart event as part of an effort to “provide an opportunity for travel professionals from the USA, Canada and Latin America to learn about the wonders Jordan had to offer and experience its diversity.” In tangible terms, the North American market brings in the biggest business for Jordan—some 160,000 inbound travelers from North American visit Jordan annually. Enough reason why Royal Jordanian Airlines has increased its flight frequencies from the US and added a direct flight from Montreal, Canada.