(MENAFN - Jordan Times) The Kingdom's tourism sector lost around JD700 million in real and potential revenue last year, the government said on Wednesday.
At a meeting to discuss the media's role in promoting tourism, Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Samih Maaytah said the sector had generated around JD2.1 billion in 2010 and contributed 14 per cent to the national economy.
During the meeting, attended by Maaytah, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Nayef Al Fayez, Jordan Tourism Board General Director Abdul Razzaq Arabiyat and representatives of the media, the ministers stressed the government's interest in cooperating with all media outlets operating in the Kingdom to highlight the country's importance as a tourist destination.
"The media" is a partner in promoting the interests of the country, especially considering the difficult economic and political circumstances the region has been going through," Maaytah said.
"We aim to highlight the importance of the tourism sector to the public via the media. Currently there are more than 45,000 Jordanians employed in the hospitality field and we expect an additional 25,000 workers to join in the coming five years," Fayez added.
In 2011, he claimed, foreign media portrayed the situation in the Kingdom as comparable to those of some Arab countries that had witnessed revolutions, stressing that this negative image of the country caused the tourism sector losses in the millions of dollars.
"Thankfully, our efforts have succeeded in changing this dark image and we expect a [better] season, but we are also counting on the public's awareness in that regard to show genuine Jordanian hospitality towards foreign and Arab tourists," Fayez said.
He added that the ministry's staff had been visiting the borders and meeting with public servants to impress upon them the importance of offering guests any assistance that may be necessary.
Last year, he noted, the ministry cooperated with the private sector to invite 600 journalists to the Kingdom and take them on tours of the Kingdom's main tourist attractions, adding that there are currently 19 journalists from the Gulf states visiting the country through an initiative by the Jordan Tourism Board.
Tourism Ministry Secretary General Issa Gammo, Jordan Radio and Television Corporation Director General Ramadan Rawashdeh and Jordan News Agency, Petra, Director General Feisal Shboul also attended the meeting.
Shboul stressed that tourism officials need to be forthcoming to the press if they wish to promote the sector in the local media.
"It is important to have a genuine partnership between the public and the private sectors due to the fact that promotional campaigns are costly" Additional meetings with representatives from the media need to be held in order to come up with applicable ideas," he said.
Rawashdeh faulted the government for allocating funds for promotional campaigns in foreign media outlets but not on Jordan Television.
"JTV is doing as much as possible, but these campaigns are very expensive and we lack the needed financial resources to carry out such campaigns," Rawashdeh said.
The participants agreed to sustain similar meetings in the near future and to keep channels of communication open.