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Conference held on Mediterranean tourism

By Batool Ghaith - Mar 17,2021 - Last updated at Mar 17,2021

AMMAN — A cross-border seminar on Mediterranean tourism, with a focus on adventure tourism, was organised virtually on Tuesday by the MEDUSA project, bringing together more than 200 professionals in the tourism sector and stakeholders from the Mediterranean region. 

Conclusions from the MEDUSA Global Market Research & Analysis Report were shared with participants who also had an exchange of ideas on sustainable and innovative adventure tourism products in the region and elsewhere. 

Seven partners from five countries joined forces to launch the MEDUSA Project to develop and promote the Mediterranean sustainable adventure tourism. These countries are namely Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Italy and Spain. 

“The Mediterranean basin is by far the largest global tourism destination attracting almost a third of the world’s international tourists,” Berta Perez, director of European Projects and Innovations at the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, noted.

Tourism is one of the most affected sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic, therefore it requires a new strategic approach for recovery, Perez said.

“We are confident that the MEDUSA Project can be a great help to face the post-pandemic challenges through marketing and promotion strategies in addition to identifying and targeting markets that can help accelerate recovery,” Perez noted. 

The situation imposed by the pandemic is generating changes in consumer behaviour that will favour the development of adventure tourism, the event heard.

According to a study by the Catalan Tourist Board, adventure tourism will have intense growth in the upcoming months, Patrick Torrent, executive director of Catalan Tourist Board highlighted.

“Sustainability will be in its broadest sense; environmental, social and cultural. MEDUSA Project will help understand the mechanism of operational adventure tourism better,” Torrent added. 

Taleb Rifai, former secretary general of the United Nations World Trade Organisation (UNWTO) and secretary general of the World Tourism Forum Institute said: “I believe adventure tourism is the future of tourism. It is not only the physical aspect that makes up the experience, rather the memories and emotions that one enjoys while engaging in an adventure.”

“It is imperative that all governments work together on a unified approach to ensure that all efforts taken are coordinated in a manner that facilitates travel rather than complicates it,” Rifai said.

The year 2019 was heralded as a successful year for tourism in Jordan with the growth in the sector increasing by 7.6 per cent in comparison to 2018, which is 1.6 per cent higher than the global average increase of 6 per cent. In 2019, tourism receipts reached JD4.11 billion (10.2 per cent higher than in 2018) and there were 4.5 million overnight visitors (8.1 per cent higher than in 2018). About 40 per cent of Jordan’s tourism revenue comes from the Jordanian diaspora, according to the MEDUSA report. 

“Jordan is in an excellent position to embrace adventure tourism, yet adventure products are in their infancy. For Jordan to become a regional destination for adventure travel, a robust private sector-led effort is required. The economic potential of adventure tourism must be assessed, and a legislative framework must be put in place,” Lina Al Khaled, project leader at the Jordan Inbound Tour Operators Association (JITOA), said.  

 The Jordan Tourism Strategy 2020-2025 sets the path to achieving Jordan’s vision to be a year-round stand-alone destination of choice for international, regional and domestic visitors, according to the report. 

“The Jordan Tourism Strategy 2020-2025 has not been officially published due to the COVID pandemic. Provisions are being made to adjust the strategy to include a COVID-19 response adjustment and part re-write. Prioritised tourism products are culture and heritage tourism, adventure tourism, religious tourism, health and wellness tourism in addition to the focus on developing domestic tourism,” Khaled said. 

“Jordan offers a high number of excellent guided and self-guided hikes and trails. They range from easy to moderate and challenging. The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) provides many opportunities for adventure travellers to explore the Kingdom on foot via Wild Jordan, a registered trademark of the RSCN,” Khaled highlighted.

However, investment is an essential component of the more competitive and faster development of tourism infrastructure, products, and services in Jordan. Investment, particularly that related to improving tourism products, services, and facilities, is needed to achieve a better degree of competitiveness, Khaled added.

 

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