Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Improving the Contribution of Domestic Tourism to the Economy of Jordan

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Improving the Contribution of Domestic Tourism to the Economy of Jordan

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper aims at exploring the current status of domestic tourism in Jordan; tourism acts as a vital economic sector, though, revenues generated by domestic tourism are far below expected levels. Some obstacles are facing the growth of this market as the high cost of commercial accommodations, high cost of visiting tourism attractions, competing tour package offers by neighboring countries as Lebanon, Syria and Egypt, concentration of tourism development in some attractions, and most important the low levels of income for a big segment in the Jordanian society. This research explores the different factors affecting domestic tourism in Jordan, also its trends and attributes. Implications required to increase numbers and expenditures of domestic tourists were suggested.

Keywords: Domestic tourism, Tourism trends, National survey of domestic tourism market 2008, Jordan

1. Introduction

For Jordan, tourism is considered as the largest export sector, its second private sector employer, and a major producer of foreign exchange (Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities [MOTA], 2003), it accounts for approximately 12.7 % of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) (Central Bank of Jordan [CBJ], 2009). Tourism has generated 2,423 million JD in 2010 as revenue (1 JD = 1.408 USD), 42,034 jobs were offered as a direct employment by this sector (MOTA, 2011).

There are many strengths and opportunities that contribute to the fast growth of tourism sector in Jordan, these are: the wide range of tourism sites in urban, rural and remote areas, it encourages the sustainability of some basic cultural aspects as traditions and handcrafts, the great diversity of natural and cultural resources and destinations in Jordan, the fact that Royal Family of Jordan is well known all over the world and it has its wide range of international participation eventually giving a positive image for the country, the good climate with high possibility to provide destinations that will fulfill the needs of different markets of visitors all around the year, the high level of security and safety if compared to some other countries in the region suffering from political instability, the availability of tourism accommodations and facilities, the existing of unique and only of their kinds destinations as Dead Sea, Petra, Jesus Baptism Site and the Mosaic Map of Madaba, also the availability of health and wellness sites as hot springs and Dead Sea(JICA [Japanese International Cooperation Agency], 2004). Despite having all these advantages, there are some problems and threats facing this sector as having trips to Jordan being treated as an extension of neighboring countries in tour packages and trade, the concentration of tourism development and facilities in sometourism attractions, and the lack of promotional campaigns and marketing representatives abroad, (Roudan et al, 2000; JICA, 2004).

From a socioeconomic perspective, tourism is expectedto play a vital role in the economic prosperity and wellbeing of Jordanian society, this comes through providing tourism careers, as well as being a source of recreational activity; unfortunately the performance of tourism is below the expected level. The 2008 annual report issued by Jordanian Ministry of Labor [MOL] shows that workers in hotels and restaurants are forming only 2.3% of total employment in different economic activities; this goes parallel with the low levels of domestic tourism. Both of these problems are due to the unawareness of a big segment in Jordanian society about the importance of tourism and its activities, also the high cost of domestic tourism. Moreover; there is a lack of information about the performance of domestic tourism market; one of the few sources of data concerning such group comes from the Department of Statistics in MOTA; this data includes only the numbers of domestic tourists to main tourism sites and number of arrivals and nights in tourism accommodations. …

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