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Touristic restaurants’ earnings down by 35 per cent this summer

By Maram Kayed - Sep 10,2018 - Last updated at Sep 10,2018

AMMAN — Touristic restaurants' sales went down by 35 per cent during this summer, according to a recent report which attributed the drop to hotels' offers and packages.

The report, conducted by the Jordan Restaurant Association (JRA), claimed that fewer people go to restaurants during summer, when the majority of them prefer hotels to benefit from the discounts they have on food during this time.

The report's findings were challenged by restaurant owners, who attributed the decline in sales to other reasons, including "weak tourism activity". 

“When a five-star-hotel offers an open buffet for 14 or 15 JDs, people will obviously choose that over an expensive dine-out at a three or four star restaurant,” Eliana Janineh, general manager of the JRA told The Jordan Times.

However, Anwar Freihat, owner of Bawabet Jerash Tourism Restaurant disagreed, saying: “Hotels have always made those types of deals, and it has never hurt business."

According to Freihat, the decline in the numbers of tourists to the Kingdom and citizens' troubled financial situation are the major reasons behind restaurants' decrease in revenues.   

Echoing Freihat's remarks, a worker at Tapei Restaurant, an Indian cuisine in Amman, told The Jordan Times that “hotels have nothing to do with this. All has to do with the financial pressure citizens are under".

Meanwhile, the association and restaurant workers both agreed that “the absence of fair regulations” is decreasing the sector's earnings, especially for startups and small businesses.

Eliana explained that a recent decision by the government aiming at “encouraging businesses outside of Amman” might have caused the decrease in touristic restaurants' revenues.

“Big hotels and restaurants in the governorates get discounts on food supplies, registration fees, and worker permits. That is unfair to small-and medium-sized restaurants in Amman,” she added.

“We used to pay JD300 for a worker permit, now we pay JD600,” said a restaurant owner in Amman, who preferred to remain unnamed.

The turbulence sweeping the region was also a major reason behind the decline in the number of tourists and, thus, revenues, according to Suleiman Eleilat, owner of Qantara restaurant in Petra. “There has been a drawback in European tourism in the region," he said, adding: “I think the past few years saw a decline of more than just 35 per cent. We don’t have many expats, or locals, for that matter. However, we are noticing an increase in tourists coming from Asia.”

“I became friends with a French tourist who used to visit Jordan every year. When I asked him why he didn’t come this year, he told me that his family advised him against it because they think the Middle East is unsafe,” said Yousef Kiswani, a worker at a restaurant in Aqaba.

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