Virus outbreak takes a massive toll on global tourism

 Friday, March 13, 2020 


As the government is executing preventive measures to fight the spread of novel coronavirus in the Kingdom, the widespread outbreak has taken impacted the tourism sector, stakeholders explained on Wednesday.


“The situation is very difficult. We lost 50 per cent of tourists from the earlier closures, but with new restrictions, it has reached 90 per cent,” Jordan Society of Tourism and Travel Agents (JSTA) President Mohammad Samih told The Jordan Times over the phone.


Samih stated that he is “not expecting” tourist inflow during the spring season, even though he is hopeful about rising footfall in September, October and November.


The JSTA president explained that the sector “was performing very well” prior to the outbreak, which supported many to develop, invest and employ new hires.


“All this evaporated within a couple weeks, and we have a lot of financial commitments that we are still unsure of how we will fulfil,” Samih said, observing that all those in the sector “have suffered grave losses”, from travel agents to hotels to restaurants, among others.


Even though the members of the society admit the efforts of the government in the wake of the crisis, the JSTA president requested the authorities to address the concerns of the sector.


Jordan Tourism Guides Association (JTGA) President Raed Abdelhaq stated that, while the reasons for postponing travel to and from few countries are suitable as of now, uncertainty remains about the duration.


“The bans and border closures have been carried out, but the plan remains unknown for the future. The Tourism Ministry says that the Urdun Jannah programme for internal tourism will make up for it, but it will not,” Abdelhaq said, noting that a reliance on internal tourism will not attract foreign currency into the country.


On Wednesday morning, Abdelhaq observed that the Jordan Tourism Board and the ministry convened a meeting followed by another meeting scheduled to be held at 5pm, assembling different entities to talk about solutions that would ease the losses of the sector.


“Around 1,300 families of tour guides are waiting for news about openings, and out of all the guides, only 20 per cent are still working today, and the percentage will drop significantly with each coming day,” Abdelhaq said.


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