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Jordan travel: Is it safe to travel right now, and what are your rights if you have a trip booked?

The Middle Eastern country shares its northern border with Israel and Syria

Natalie Wilson
Tuesday 16 January 2024 15:26 GMT
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King Hussein International Airport in Aqaba is operational
King Hussein International Airport in Aqaba is operational (Getty Images)

Since the start of the Israel-Gaza war and amid escalating tensions in the Red Sea, concerns over the safety of travel to Israel and countries in the surrounding region have risen.

Although the FCDO considers most of Jordan generally safe to travel to – bar the area up to 3km from its northern border with Syria – travel guidance has been updated to reflect ongoing events.

As conflict in the Middle East spills into the Red Sea, cruise itineraries could be disrupted beyond the existing restrictions due to conflict in neighbouring Israel and Gaza.

Jordan, a popular winter sun destination for tourists, shares its northern border with both Israel and Syria, and travellers with trips booked may be questioning the wisdom of holidaying there.

Here’s the latest travel advice for Jordan, plus all the key questions and answers.

What is happening in the Red Sea?

Houthi rebels, a Yemen-based group backed by Iran, have been fighting a civil war since 2014 against Yemen’s government. Since 19 November the group have launched 27 assaults on commercial vessels and warships in the Red Sea – claimed to be targeted action against all ships bound for Israel in support of the Palestinian people.

On 11 January, the US and UK militaries mobilised missile strikes against the militant group’s sites in Yemen in a naval coalition to protect shipping, and further attacks have followed.

Aqaba, Jordan’s only seaport, sits on the Gulf of Aqaba at the tip of the Red Sea. Cruise holidays due to dock in Jordan will likely be diverted due to the unfolding Red Sea crisis.

What does the Foreign Office say?

The most recent Foreign Office (FCDO) advice updated on 12 January said: “Military activity is currently underway in response to attempts by Houthi militants to prevent movement of international shipping in the Red Sea.

“While the area of activity is limited to the Red Sea and Yemen, there is a possibility that Travel Advice for nearby countries could change at short notice.”

On 10 October, the FCDO strengthened its stance on travel to Jordan to warn that crossings from Jordan to Israel may be closed at short notice as a result of the conflict and state of emergency in southern Israel close to the border with Gaza.

Large political demonstrations and protests in response to the situation in Israel, often near the Israeli and US embassies, should also be avoided by tourists in Amman.

The FCDO has long advised “against all but essential travel to within 3km of Jordan’s border with Syria”.

Its guidance states that the situation in Syria is “fragile” and “security threats in the form of instability or terrorist activity could arise with little or no notice”, advising against all travel to the country.

Travellers are also warned to “take particular care at all border areas and if crossing into any neighbouring country” and “remain vigilant” to terrorism threats at all times.

What do the Jordan authorities say?

The Jordan Tourism Board said in a statement: “In light of the recent developments in Gaza, we want to emphasise that Jordan continues to be a safe and welcoming destination for tourists from around the world.

“Our commitment to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all visitors remains unwavering. We want to reassure everyone that Jordan’s borders are open to tourists, and we are eager to share our extraordinary experiences with the world.

“We understand that tensions around the world can raise concerns, but we believe in the power of travel to foster understanding and build bridges between nations.

“As always, the Jordan Tourism Board is here to assist and support tourists in making the most of their visit.”

Jordan’s deputy Prime Minister and minister of foreign affairs, Ayman Al-Safadi, stressed the need to “stop the dangerous escalation in Gaza and its surroundings” and highlighted the ongoing Jordanian effort to launch “immediate international action to stop the escalation, the necessity of protecting civilians and respecting international humanitarian laws”.

Al-Safadi said that the need to protect civilians, whose killings are “condemned by international laws”, fuelled Jordanian efforts to stop the escalation and end the war on Gaza, in order to “avoid their repercussions on the entire region”.

Are Jordan flights continuing?

Flights are operating to and from Jordan, although forced cancellations to Aqaba Airport are active until 31 January from Wizz Air and Ryanair due to “operational restrictions beyond their control”.

The main airlines that fly from the UK to Jordan include British Airways, easyJet, Tui and Wizz Air out of London Heathrow, London Gatwick and London Luton. From 6 March, Royal Jordanian will depart London Stansted and Manchester for Amman.

Currently, Queen Alia International Airport, south of Amman remains operational – as does King Hussein International Airport in Aqaba, Jordan’s southernmost point.

In 2021, Jordan and Israel reached a historic agreement to open up the Jordan-Israel air corridor and allow flights that previously flew around Israel to cross over into each country’s airspace, cutting flight times from the West.

An international aviation group, OpsGroup warns: “Lessons learned regarding civil operations in conflict zones over the last nine years since MH17 need to be applied. The risk of a passenger aircraft becoming a casualty of this war is high.”

What if I have booked a package holiday to Jordan?

Travellers who have booked package holidays to Jordan’s “no go” zone as advised by the FCDO can cancel without penalty for a full refund, although the main tourist spots are a fair distance from here anyway.

Outside of the 3km radius between Jordan’s northern border and Syria, the conditions for cancelling your trip will be dependent on your holiday provider, so it’s best to contact them if you’re looking to postpone. There is no obligation for companies to refund you if you want to cancel and you will not be able to claim on travel insurance due to safety concerns unless FCDO advice changes.

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