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An opportunity not entirely lost!

Nov 19,2022 - Last updated at Nov 19,2022

Amid daily life’s preoccupations and concerns, we often forget the obvious, remembering or recalling it only when the occasion arises or when circumstances dictate.

We invoke this premise by way of stressing the importance of our touristic attractions.

That we are blessed with a great number of them is a fact known to all. All of us Jordanians know this fact in our heart of hearts, even though, paradoxically, few Jordanians experience first-hand these touristic sites, since internal tourism is not on the agenda of many of us, who prefer recreational tourism in neigbouring countries, for a variety of reasons they cite, some of which are convincing, and some are not.

But all of us also know, at the same time, that demand on Jordanian touristic sites, be they historical, archaeological, environmental, or religious, is still below expectations; even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Compared to the great potential, what materialises in actuality remains relatively small.

There are many reasons for this unpleasing situation, and experts in the field are more than capable of pinpointing these reasons. We have a good number of specialists in both our universities and our private and public institutions who can determine the challenges, the impediments, and the solutions with precision and depth.

But one of the main reasons, one ventures to say, is the insufficient promotion, both quantitatively and qualitatively, of our touristic sites, at the national, regional and international levels. Simply, many out there do not know about the tourist treasures we have. And many will come if the facts are put in front of them.

How do we reach out to those interested regionally and internationally, and how do we generate interest among those who could be potentially interested? This is the crucial question here.

And this is precisely what a British university professor relayed to me last week during an academic conference at the Dead Sea. We were chatting during the break, and he informed me that he is visiting Jordan for the first time, and that he is impressed “beyond words” with the tourist attractions we have.

He said he became interested in the matter when he was invited to come to the conference. He said he read a lot about the country upon receiving the invitation and he immediately marveled at the abundance, wealth, and significance of what we have. He also stressed that more important than what is said in pamphlets and websites is what one actually experiences on the ground. “You have so many treasures!”

“I cannot believe it: the Baptism site is less than fifteen minutes from here, Mount Nebo is about half an hour, Mekawer is less than forty minutes, The Kerak Castle about an hour, and Petra is about two hours ….”

“The story told by each of these sites is truly extraordinary. Many countries in fact would be thrilled to have one such story. You are fortunate.”

Indeed, we are fortunate with so many touristic wonders, archaeologically, historically, religiously, culturally, and recreationally. But we have not capitalised on these gifts as much as we should, and as much as others would have.

We realise, of course, that many efforts have been, and are being, exerted to promote Jordan touristically; and these are highly appreciated. And some have borne fruit over the years.

However, the efforts and the yield are still way below expectations.

We do not want to say that we have slackened and lost so many valuable opportunities, as indeed we have. Nevertheless, many opportunities still exist, and those concerned at both our public and private sectors should exert more effort and work together as a team to bring about the leap we have been hoping for in the tourism sector.

Time to exert more effort; and time is of utmost importance now.

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