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Authorities reinstate Aqaba Festival as port city becomes favourite domestic tourism destination

By Maram Kayed - Jul 09,2020 - Last updated at Jul 09,2020

Aqaba has become the the most-visited tourist destination for citizens in the Kingdom as air travel has been restricted and domestic tourism has become the only option (JT file photo)

AMMAN — The Aqaba Festival will be held before the end of July, as “the intensity of local tourism” has prompted the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) to reschedule it after it was postponed this winter.

ASEZA General Director Nayef Bakhit said that the port city “has succeeded in being the only tourist city in the south to be completely free of any coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, which prompted decision-makers to restore this distinction for its citizens and tourists”.

Aqaba has become the the most-visited tourist destination for citizens in the Kingdom as air travel has been restricted and domestic tourism has become the only option.

With dozens of flights arriving from Queen Alia International Airport to King Hussein International Airport and with Aqaba as most citizens’ only sea getaway, the authority decided to reinstate the Aqaba Festival before the end of this month to “ further attract domestic tourism and stimulate Aqaba’s economy while providing an appropriate and calm atmosphere which enables visitors to spend a recreational holiday full of activities and events that abide by health procedures,” said the general director.

Since domestic air travel resumed as of last month, flights have been booked at prices as low as JD 39, which has “not only simulated Aqaba’s tourism but visits to the golden triangle [which consists of Aqaba, Wadi Rum and Petra] as well”, Bakhit said.

ASEZA, in partnership with the tourism sector, will re-launch the Aqaba Festival of Tourism after the end of the Tawjihi (general secondary education certificate) exams to “enable the largest possible number of citizens to visit the golden triangle”.

The festival will include “distinct offers and discounts”, with the general director noting that its launch coincides with the arrival of Eid Al Adha and the end of the Tawjihi exams.

Bakhit pointed out that in line with His Majesty King Abdullah’s focus on domestic tourism, especially in the city of Aqaba, ASEZA has made sure to monitor all tourism establishments for abidance by health procedures mandated by the Ministry of Health.

Domestic tourist trips are also subject to strict health procedures in terms of physical distancing, sterilisation of personal belongings and bags and the examination of arrivals with a specialised device under the supervision of doctors from the Ministry of Health, he said.

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