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Tourism and the Arab Spring

Jan 06,2014 - Last updated at Jan 06,2014

Tourism is a sensitive industry that only thrives in an atmosphere of peace, tolerance, economic, social and political stability.

The political, social and cultural situation plays significant role in shaping the nature and scope of tourism in any country. There is, no doubt, a direct relation between peace and political stability, and tourism development.

On December 17, 2010, dramatic political events occurred in the Middle East and North Africa. They sparked a new political phenomenon known as the Arab Spring, which created an unstable political and economic situation in the entire region.

According to international statistics, the overall GDP in the region fell from 4.2 per cent in 2010 to 2.2 per cent in 2011. The tourism industry also witnessed a great decline.

For example, the number of inbound tourists in the major tourism countries in the region (Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan and Lebanon) fell by a quarter in 2011. Questions have been raised about Jordan’s ability to deal with these major challenges to the tourism development.

Tourism managers, the media and all those involved in Jordan’s tourism industry can play a crucial role in lessening the negative repercussions of the dramatic political situations in the area.

Intra-regional tourism has to be encouraged.

Tourists need to be able to recognise that some countries of the region are still safe and secure, such as Jordan.

Moreover, those responsible for tourism marketing and promotion should provide a clear idea about the safety and security in Jordan.

Attracting new tourism markets is also critical to enhancing the flow of tourists. Good candidates are BRIC countries, which witness big economic growth.

The media also have a role to play in promoting Jordan’s political, economic and social stability, and thus attracting tourists.

The writer is assistant professor of tourism and leisure marketing, Faculty of Archaeology and Tourism, University of Jordan. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

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