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Jordan’s Tourism Horizons Continue to Expand: Istanbul-Aqaba Route

Thanks to the efforts of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) and USAID Jordan Tourism Development Project, Jordan’s tourism is about to gain a significant boost from increased direct flights between Aqaba and Istanbul. The new route gives millions of Turkish travelers direct access to Jordan along with a superb location to three of the country’s key tourism attractions.

“Our challenge is to grow and sustain demand to Aqaba in specific, and Jordan in general,” explained H.E. Sharhabeel S. Madi, ASEZA Commissioner for Economic Development and Investment Affairs, noting that, “The challenges are real and we have to do things differently to overcome them and sieve the growth opportunities.”

“The imminent launch of this new route is an exciting time for Jordan’s tourism sector. This represents the kind of partnership that will help Jordan expand its reach into lucrative tourism markets and take the country’s thriving sector one step further towards reaching its great tourism potential,” said Ibrahim Osta, USAID tourism project Chief of Party.

“The launch of Turkish Airlines Aqaba flights marks a historic moment for Aqaba; the first foreign international network carrier to make scheduled flights to Aqaba airport. Tremendous opportunities for tourism trade for Aqaba will emerge and be utilized through the Turkish Airlines network of 97 countries and 215 cities. Tourists and business men will have the convenience to travel directly to and from Aqaba from all around the world. With support of ASEZA, JTB, USAID and representatives of the tourism industry we will help develop tourism and trade in Aqaba,” said Sedat Orman, Turkish Airlines General for Aqaba.

“Initially, we want to thank the USAID Jordan Tourism Development Project for giving operators the chance to meet with Turkish Airlines. We are optimistic that the launch of the flight between Aqaba and Istanbul will increase the number of overall visitors from Turkey to Jordan, which had shown a downfall of 70.4% in the past year. This will reinforce the work JTB has put in with USAID tourism project cooperation, to translate print and online media to the Turkish language. In addition to creating opportunities of hosting familiarization and press trips to Jordan, which will widen access and channels of Jordan as a touristic destination,” said Dr. Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat, JTB Director.

The new route is the result of efforts led by the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) and the USAID Jordan Tourism Development Project in cooperation with Turkish Airlines. It will give millions of travelers direct access to Jordan through Aqaba, from where they can easily reach three of the country’s key tourism attractions. This is a great development for tourism, and can help the tourism sector open up new and grow existing source markets in ways that were not possible before, especially at these challenging times of decline in tourist arrivals, low occupancy rates in Aqaba and Petra accompanied by a sharp rise in available hotel rooms in Aqaba as a result of the new the development projects being finalized and others in the pipeline. Planned hotel developments in Aqaba are expected to create more than 7,000 jobs over the next five years.

Today’s event was organized and implemented by the USAID tourism project as part of their continued efforts to help increase the number of visitors to Jordan in order to revive tourism activity in the country, upon which more than 35,000 direct jobs for Jordanians depended on in 2012.

Jordan’s tourism sector, including tour operators and hotel representatives, received first-hand information about how this will impact tourism in Jordan and the sector can capitalize on the new route to grow business. The new route connects to key source markets for Jordan, including Turkey and countries in South America and Scandinavia, both of which were recently identified by Jordan’s sector as promising potential markets to be tapped into. Increasing the number of visitors to Jordan can further boost the positive impact of tourism on the country’s economy.

This builds on previous work of the USAID tourism project, in cooperation with Turkish Airlines, to enhance cooperation between Turkish and Jordanian travel industries, co-host media trips for Turkish TV crews and journalists to Jordan to promote its tourism attractions to the Turkish market.

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