Jordan is open for tourists, say authorities

Tourism authorities in Jordan have insisted that the country remains a safe destination in spite of recent developments that have rocked other tourism hotspots in the region.

The Jordan Tourism Board, charged with promoting travel to Jordan's tourism hotspots such as Petra and the Dead Sea, issued a statement criticizing media reports that characterized the country as a "victim" of political unrest.

Thousands of Jordanians have taken part in anti-government protests in Jordanian towns and cities over the past weeks, although some political analysts believe the flexibility of Jordan's monarchy makes a "domino effect" unlikely and travel advice from Western countries to the region has not been changed.

Tourism to Jordan surged last year, according to official figures released in January, with overnight visits up to 4.55 million from 3.78 million in 2009 and visitors spending a whopping JD2.42 billion (€2.5 billion) in the process.

The country has set itself tough targets to increase visitor numbers and is testing new ways to appeal to visitors, such as a Twitter campaign from Queen Rania and a tie-up with Google announced last year.

As some cruise ships due to make port calls in protest-riven Egypt have been diverted to the Jordanian port of Aqaba in the Red Sea, the country will be hoping to capitalize on its reputation as a relatively modern country in the middle of a turbulent region to further increase numbers.

"Tourists from all over the world continue to enjoy Jordan's countless and priceless treasures, as well as its unique and internationally-renowned hospitality," said Jordan Tourism Board managing director Nayef Al-Fayez.

The Jordan Inbound Tour Operators Association said that groups had been evacuated from protest-affected areas to Jordan and some operators were diverting their programs to the kingdom, because it was safe for tourists.

http://www.visitjordan.com

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