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Jordanians set sights on Kingdom for Eid holiday

By Suzanna Goussous - Jul 04,2016 - Last updated at Jul 04,2016

A tourist bus is seen on a street in Aqaba, some 330km south of Amman, recently. Jordanians are looking to spend this Eid holiday in the Kingdom (Photo by Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas)

AMMAN — Many Jordanians take advantage of Eid Al Fitr to travel, but this year, some say they are shunning overseas trips and choosing the cheaper, safer option to holiday in Jordan. 

Samer Salameh, a father of four, said he seizes the opportunity to spend time with his family away from the overcrowded city during Eid Al Fitr, the feast marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. 

“We tend to roam around Jordan during holidays, sometimes Ajloun, Madaba, Karak, Irbid, or Salt. It is an interesting way of introducing your children to our country,” he told The Jordan Times on Sunday.

Salameh said in Eid holidays, hotels at the Dead Sea and in Aqaba usually increase their prices, which sometimes “drives locals away” and promotes tourism to other countries.

Izzat Mango agreed, and said the services offered at the Dead Sea and Aqaba do not justify the high prices charged during holiday seasons. 

Mango said he sometimes travels to Lebanon or Turkey because local resorts are overpriced. 

But for 24-year-old Salem Nimer, the Eid holidays are a chance to go on adventures with his friends.

“On the second or third day of Eid, I like to go to Dana Biosphere Reserve, Ajloun, Jerash, Um Qais, Wadi Rum or Wadi Mujib, to experience different adventures and to avoid having a traditional vacation,” he told The Jordan Times.

He said the trips offered by reservation offices in Jordan are “inclusive of several activities”, adding that many young Jordanians prefer to go on a hiking trip than to go swimming for the day. 

Wild Jordan’s reservations coordinator, Nour Mazen, said that this year, more Jordanians are interested in travelling to places around the Kingdom. 

“Usually, foreigners visiting or living in Jordan are the ones interested in our tours, but recently, Jordanians have been asking about trips and registering for them,” she said.

“Due to the current situation in the region, Jordanians this year chose the in-house tourism.”

Mazen said trips to Wadi Mujib, Ajloun Forest Reserve, and Azraq Wetland Reserve are popular with Jordanians. 

Mohammad Abu Odeh, the finance manager at Mawakeb reservations office, said domestic tourism prospers “occasionally”.

“The problem is with the hotel occupancy. Over the weekend, one room [at four to five-star hotels] in Aqaba and at the Dead Sea costs around JD120, while throughout the week, the room costs around JD80,” he said.

Abu Odeh noted that over the past two years, domestic tourism has become more popular and people are more aware of the places they can visit in Jordan.

“A few years ago, Jordanians used to spend holidays and Eid in Lebanon and Syria, but with all the changes in the region, they cannot travel to neighbouring countries anymore,” he told The Jordan Times.

People have realised that travelling within Jordan is cheaper than going abroad, and this has also boosted domestic tourism, Abu Odeh said. 

“Three days in Egypt’s Taba are the same as one day in Aqaba, since the first and last days are spent packing and travelling,” he added.

At Abu Odeh’s reservation office, 85 Jordanians have booked rooms at Dead Sea hotels and 181 in Aqaba for Eid Al Fitr, which is expected to start on Tuesday, depending on the sighting of the crescent moon. 

The figures are lower than in 2015, he noted, when 128 Jordanians made reservations in the Dead Sea and 300 in Aqaba.

 

“The rate of in-house tourism should be much higher than that since Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon are not currently considered as safe destinations,” he told The Jordan Times.

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