Jordan officials aim to revive U.S. arrivals

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Through Sept. 28 of this year, U.S. arrivals in Jordan were up 23% over last year, according to Marwan Khoury, managing director of the Jordan Tourism Board.

He said Jordan was attracting a mix of clientele, with interests ranging from culture or religion to ecotourism and wellness travel.

Then the troubles began in neighboring Israel, and about 65% to 75% of the business to Jordan from the U.S. was canceled for the last three months of 2000, Khoury reported. All trips involving Israel in the same itinerary were canceled, he added.

Now, "our worries are for 2001; we are not getting the same inquiries as in the past."

U.S. arrivals were up 23% over last year, until the clashes began. That is why Khoury attended the U.S. Tour Operators Association annual meeting here last month.

He came, he said, to convince all those tour operators that previously had Jordan in their brochures to keep the country there, "to help keep the country on the map."

Khoury said he also came to Scottsdale to send a message that Jordan really wants business out of the U.S., that this market is important.

He added that, while Jordan is seeking the industry's support, it also is offering to help and expects to engage in cooperative advertising campaigns with industry interests.

"Life is normal in Jordan; it is normal in most of Israel, too," he added.

Tour operators and travel agents have a good understanding of this, he said; the problem is the consumer.

Malia Asfour, director of the Jordan Tourism Board in North America, in Arlington, Va., said advertising will probably continue to push the theme of the "Jordan Experience."

That experience, Khoury said, can be defined as diversity, an ancient land, "with 100 sites mentioned in the Bible," and a modern kingdom, with its natural wonders "and modern accommodations."

It is a diversified product, he said, that is also "accessible, hospitable and safe."

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