Jordan must be ‘realistic’ about impact of Israel-Hamas conflict, says tourism minister

Jordan’s tourism minister has said the destination remains “confident” it will bounce back despite its tourism recovery being hampered by the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Makram Mustafa Queisi said the country must be “realistic” when assessing the impact the conflict will have, but stressed its “resilience” will enable it to overcome the adversity.

“We are impacted, to tell the truth,” Queisi told Travel Weekly. “We are very realistic and we know that tourism is very resilient but very fragile at the same time.

“We understand that the conflict in the region can definitely have a negative impact on the number of visitors and tourists.”

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Jordan is tracking two indicators to assess the impact on tourism, said Queisi, one being the number of hotel cancellations and the other being the drop-off in visitors to the country’s most popular tourist attractions, including Petra.

Queisi said that while the destination did not suffer many hotel cancellations in the immediate aftermath of the conflict beginning on October 7, there are now “some cancellations”, though he could not give an exact figure.

The country has witnessed a drop-off of about 40% in visitor numbers to the country’s main attractions.

“In the beginning of the crisis we did not witness a significant drop-off because people were already there and were coming already,” added Queisi.

“But later on we started to witness some cancellations. In terms of the number of visitors at the most important and famous sites in Jordan, like Petra, we see a drop of about 40% in the number of tourists.”

However, Queisi stressed that the destination remains confident about its future because it has a history of showing resilience.

“Jordan as a country has been resilient for decades,” he added. “This is not the first crisis we are witnessing. Every time we face a crisis, we come out stronger than before.

“We are hopeful this crisis doesn’t go on for long, but we will be ready to deal with the situation.”

Queisi said Jordan is demonstrating its confidence by continuing to exhibit at World Travel Market instead of pulling out, adding he has more interviews and meetings than in previous years.

In 2023, Jordan “far exceeded” its visitor numbers and revenue compared with 2019, said Queisi, who hailed the fact Jordan’s tourism sector accounts for 14.6% of its overall GDP.

He described 2022 as a “break-even” year for the destination, which has this year been exceeded by 25% in terms of visitor numbers.

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