The movers and shakers of international tourism and travel industry meet in Jordan recently to discuss about the challenges facing the industry, writes Putri Zanina
JORDAN organised its first international tourism conference on June 5 and 6 at the shores of the Dead Sea to discuss market opportunities for the tourism sector and the challenges it faces in light of global and regional changes at economic, political and social levels.
Titled “Seizing Tourism Market Opportunities In Times Of Rapid Change”, the conference, held at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre at the Dead Sea resort area near Amman, attracted more than 500 participants worldwide.
Conference speakers were Jordan Tourism Board managing director Dr Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat, World Travel and Tourism Council president and CEO David Scowsill, United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) secretary-general Dr Taleb Rifai and Jordan's Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Nayef Al Fayez, who opened the conference on behalf of King Abdullah.
Eminent panellists, including the movers and shakers of international tourism and the travel industry, discussed topics ranging from how changes in the global economy affected tourism flows and investments to how destinations could seize opportunities afforded by rapidly changing market conditions.
Conference panellists included UNWTO executive director for competitiveness, external relations and partnerships Marcio Favilla L. de Paula and World Youth & Student Travel Confederation and International Student Identity Card secretary general Martijn van de Veen.
Also highlighted during the conference was the performance of the tourism industry in Jordan. A small country with a population of 6.2 million, Jordan started its tourism activity about 10 to 15 years ago. The country’s tourism sector, which started growing after the private sector’s participation and investment, is now the second largest revenue generator, after the industry and manufacturing sector.
The Jordanian tourism market has grown to JD 3.8 billion (RM17.17 billion), which was less than JD 1 billion a few years ago. It contributed 18.9 per cent to the country’s GDP last year. The country hopes the sector will eventually become the No.1 contributor to the GDP.
Jordan relied heavily on Europe and the United States in the past but the time has now come for the country to look for new markets in Asia such as India and China as well as Brazil.
Malaysia is also considered one of Jordan’s more important markets in Asia with a potential to grow further. This is despite Malaysians only totalling 15,977 or 0.234 per cent of the 6.8 million visitors to Jordan last year.
Conference participants also attended various social side events and visited places of interest in Jordan including Unesco world heritage site Petra. With Petra and other rich historical legacies, Jordan promises tourists an experience rooted in history and culture, enhanced by the hospitality of its people and natural wonders.
The conference was organised with the co-operation of UNWTO, World Travel and Tourism Council, Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of Jordan and Jordan Tourism Board.