Jordan to host regional conference on role of sustainable tourism in cities

August 27, 2017
Must-visit destination. Tourists take pictures during their visit to the Amman Citadel. (Reuters)

Amman - Jordan is to host the regional conference Tourism in MENA Cities as part of the United Nations’ declaration of 2017 being the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Develop­ment. The event comes after the country reported an increase of 14.5% in tourism revenues, totalling $2.1 billion, in the past six months.
The November 13-14 event is to focus on the role of sustainable tourism in enhancing holistic eco­nomic growth for cities, its contri­bution to protecting the environment and preserving cultural heritage.
Suzy Hatough, director of Dar Al- Diafa for Tourism Human Resources Development Consultancy, said the “unique gathering” is timely for Jordan.
“Jordan’s tourism sector is having an excellent period of progress and this conference comes at the right moment when all indicators show positive results in this vital sector,” she said.
Gallup’s “2017 Global Law and Order Report” ranked Jordan as the ninth safest country globally and the second safest in the Arab world.
“Safety is a crucial issue when it comes to tourism and Jordan has all the elements to become a world leader in this vital sector and this conference will focus on such issues, too,” said Hatough.
Jordan reported a 10.5% increase in the number of tourists in the first five months of 2017, with a total of 2.6 million visitors compared to 1.864 million visitors in the same period last year, Ministry of Tourism statistics indicate.
“The conference will tackle key subjects such as the important role of an integrated policy making to ensure a sustainable and com­petitive tourism development in urban destinations, integrated planning, development and man­agement for sustainable urban tour­ism, resilient and sustainable eco­nomic growth through innovation, technology, social inclusiveness and creative tourism, the role of new technologies and the digital media, in addition to others,” Hatough said.
Improving transparency, knowl­edge, professionalism, productiv­ity, infrastructure, connectivity, innovation and technology to achieve competitiveness in MENA cities will also be on the conference agenda. The signing of the private sector commitment to the United Nations- World Trade Organisation Global Code of Ethics for Tourism is to take place at the conference. Hatough is a member of the UNWTO-World Committee for Tourism Ethics.
Journalist Ziad Momani hailed the conference as a positive move for improving urbanism.
“Two centuries ago, only 2% of the world’s population was urban and today cities accommodate around 54% of the world population and generate more than 60% of global GDP,” he said. “Sustainable Urban Tourism contributes positively to employment, GDP, wealth, foreign exchange and improves the services sector.”
The kingdom recently adopted measures to attract international tourists, especially from the Gulf region, with a global marketing cam­paign. Several Hollywood movies have been filmed in Jordan, generat­ing more than $211 million and cre­ating 5,000 full-time jobs in the past ten years.
The Royal Film Commission, an entity that focuses on promoting film culture, has begun Jordan’s first film tourism strategy, to direct efforts to attract visitors to Jordan through cinema.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” “Lawrence of Arabia” and “The Mar­tian” are some of the blockbuster movies that were filmed in various sites in Jordan.
Jordanian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Lina Annab has said that Jordan’s considerable investment projects are concentrated in Amman, the Dead Sea and Aqaba.
“The value of current investments in Aqaba and the Dead Sea reached more than $22 billion, including Ayla Oasis, an 18-hole golf course designed by professional golfer Greg Norman, Saraya Aqaba and Marsa Zayed, in the southern port of Aqaba,” Annab said.
“Experts in the tourism sector, researchers and specialists will take part in the regional conference in which several key investment projects will be announced.”