In a pleasant climate and in the Dead Sea – the largest nature spa in the world – the 3rd Jordan Travel Mart opened with participation from around a 100 buyers and media from North and South America. The buyers and media met with around 44 sellers from Jordan in their stands where over 2,000 business meetings where held between buyers and sellers.
The welcome reception and dinner took place at the Marriott Jordan valley Dead Sea Resort and Spa. On the morning of the 22nd, an opening breakfast and the official welcome took place at The King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Center, where guests were welcomed by Jordanian officials from the ministry of tourism and from the senate house where HE Mr. Akel Biltagi addressed the guests. Followed by a seminar for buyers and another for suppliers and media, Mr. Phil Otterson, president of the America Tourism Society and Mr. Albert Herrera, vice president of Virtuoso, presented a few ideas on the best way for Jordanian suppliers to reach the market in North and South America.
A press conference for HE Mrs. Maha al-Khatib, minister of tourism in Jordan, and Mr. Nayef al-Fayez held with the participation of over 60 journalists from America and Jordan, took place for almost an hour, where questions and answers took place. eTurboNews attended and asked HE about the cooperation between Middle East countries such as Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon in order to attract more tourists from America, as the distance to reach the Middle East for tourists is not that of a short trip. HE stated that in the meantime, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon are working together through travel agents to facilitate the vacation for American tourists.
Pre-scheduled business appointments started, followed by a lunch at the Moevenpick resort, sponsored by the Airport International Group, where Mr. Curtis Grad, CEO of AIG, presented the latest information and images about the new airport in Jordan that will be opened in 2 years.
Buyers and media had the chance to visit different locations in Jordan, and I met a few friends who expressed their happiness from the visit.
Her Excellency Mrs. Maha Al-Khatib, minister of tourism in Jordan, addressed the guests and audience during the opening breakfast:
“I am pleased to welcome you in Jordan – the cradle of civilization and a country of an unparalleled spectrum of treasures and amazing experiences.
“I am confident that during your stay in this wonderful destination, you will see for yourselves some of what Jordan can offer, be it faith and religion, history and culture, leisure and wellness, fun and adventure, or eco and nature.
“Jordan is a unique location – I am not saying that as a minister of tourism – history has said this. Throughout history it was the path of conquering armies, it was the crossroads of trade caravans between east and west, and most importantly, it was the theatre of some of the most important events that shaped our world today.
“Along its diverse landscape, you can find castles embedded in high mountains, a red desert with fascinating matching cliffs, a lost rose city, rare coral reef and fauna, a sea 400 meters below sea level, a Roman amphitheatre in the middle of modern a bustling city, a well-preserved Decapolis city, a prophet’s view of the holy land, and the site of another’s baptism.
“We take special pride in the diversity of our tourism product that combines all-year-round mild weather, history, archaeology, religion, adventure, wellness, family, health, nature, and much more – all together, [these] are the components of a very special and unforgettable Jordan experience.
“Tourism is also instrumental in attracting local, regional, and international investment in the Kingdom, in addition to creating jobs and generating hard currency revenues.
“The global economic crisis has not been kind to the tourism industry, nor was its coincidence with the H1N1 pandemic outbreak. All together, they turned 2009 into one of the hardest times to face [in] the global tourism sector.
“For us in Jordan, I will use the words of the United Nations World Tourism Organization: ‘Jordan has succeeded in bucking the negative trend.’
“Also according to the WTO, Jordan is number 11 on its list of the world’s best performing countries during 2009 with a 1.6 percent rise in the numbers of overnight tourists.
“This is exactly why sustainable tourism development is at the core of our strategies – both in the government and in the private sector.
“We are working on several fronts to maximize the benefits and added value for our visitors.
“We are also paying special attention to preserving, protecting, maintaining, and managing our priceless historical sites. Our world wonder, Petra, is now the focal point of such efforts.
“Other entities were established to help develop and draw attention to other historic and natural destinations and to increase Jordan’s competitiveness [as] an international destination by diversifying and improving experiences.
“Last May, His Majesty King Abdullah was here at the Dead Sea to attend the launch of the Dead Sea Development Zone, which stretches over an area of 40 square kilometers, spanning an area from the Jordan River to Mujib in the south.
“In the north, we are placing special attention to Ajloun – a region of ecological, natural, as well as historical significance. The mountains and forests of Ajloun are a constant attraction to Jordanians and visitors alike, particularly during summer. The Ajloun Forest Reserve represents great natural and ecological pillars to bio-diversity in that area.
“We are also paying special attention to other important sites such as the Citadel in downtown Amman. With the help of USAID, we are developing the site into the key attraction of the capital’s landmarks.
“We are also placing great emphasis on nature and the environment by supporting eco-tourism and our renowned nature reserves. We are also helping create more awareness of voluntourism, an issue which was under discussion during your first Jordan Travel Mart.
“As I said earlier, sustaining tourism is at the top of our priorities. But there are things we cannot do on our own. We will need your help in educating your travelers on how they can minimize their footprint in places like Petra. We will also need your help in coming up with creative and innovative ways to promote Jordan in your part of the world.
“Northern, Central, and South America are all important markets as far as Jordan is concerned, and with your help, I am confident that we can bring people together and show them the essence of a unique experience.
“I am confident that with the efforts of the Jordan Tourism Board and with the support of the private sector, we will do our best to manage those funds to yield the best possible results.
“Thank you all for making the trip to Jordan. I wish you a wonderful stay and a very successful JTM – and most importantly, lots of fun.”