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Prolonged Gaza crisis undermines Jordan’s tourism sector

The prolonged deadly conflict in the Gaza Strip has negatively impacted Jordan’s tourism sector and cast a shadow on the country’s economy, said industry insiders.

A recent report by the World Bank on Jordan’s economy indicated that the eruption of the conflict in the Middle East and the concerns over its prolongation or escalation carries high risks for the kingdom’s economy, which is expected to grow by 2.6 percent in 2023 and slightly decline to 2.5 percent in 2024.

Even in the case of a contained conflict, neighboring countries may still be perceived as a risky destination. This could have implications for Jordan’s external accounts, given that the significant recovery of travel receipts since 2021 was key in supporting the current account, the report said.

Daoud Saleem, an employee at a travel agency in the capital Amman, told Xinhua that they have already received many cancellations from across Europe.

“Winter season is usually a good season for group tourists who come to the Dead Sea and Aqaba to celebrate the New Year, but our business has sharply declined amid the Gaza conflict,” he said.

Ahmad Yehya, a ticket salesman at a travel agency in Amman, echoed that more and more cancellations were required from foreign tourists as the situation in the Gaza Strip escalated.

Early reports from tourism agencies point to a 50-75 percent drop in hotel occupancy and reservations in the two months following the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict on Oct. 7, the World Bank said.

The restaurant and hotels sector, while remaining a small sector in the gross domestic product, contributing 1.5 percent, is closely correlated with other important sectors in the Jordanian economy, notably wholesale and retail trade, transport, and construction, it added.

“This is a cycle that will affect everyone… The tourism sector is the most to be affected,” Elham Saeed, an economic news editor at the Jordan Press Foundation, told Xinhua. ■

Famagusta Gazette