We are about to unwrap this beautiful unique destination for you to enjoy once again
Having a safe destination means to be safe from anything that may cause you any harm, physically or mentally. Safety is not only to be free from crimes, thefts or terrorism. Being in a healthy destination, being sure and confident that where you are is capable to provide the needed measures to address any medical issue is also a major safety assurance.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, this small country in the Middle East with a population of 10 million did set an example to the world not only on how to deal with Covid-19 but to crush its curve.
When the pandemic started in Wuhan, Jordan was among the first counties to evacuate its citizens from China. In January, Jordan’s National Epidemics Committee and Health Ministry designated certain hospitals to treat suspected and confirmed cases if any and established several protocols to deal with any case, five weeks before the country recorded its first case on 2nd March.
Mid-March, the government implemented a plan to quarantine arrivals in the country before the borders and the airports were completely shut down. The Jordanian Army was the spearhead with an operational plan to facilitate the transportation of thousands of arrivals from airports and border crossings to five star hotels in Amman and the Dead Sea, a popular tourist area which was isolated and used as accommodation for a mandatory two-week quarantine. The accommodation was fully covered by the government.
Rapid decisions followed, where the government suspended schools, banned public gatherings and closed the borders and airports in response to the spread of the virus in nearby countries and around the world. The Ministry of Education started with Distant Learning in no time through the ministry’s e-site, and through TV stations. Prayers in Mosques and Churches was banned.
The government, at the request of the King, also passed emergency laws to allow the military and public security to enforce a strict lockdown and curfew. The general curfew was eased days later where the government started delivering main supplies to people at their homes, then allowing people to go out on foot to buy groceries from local stores from 10 am till 6 pm.
The lockdown continued for about two months, with a siren announcing the curfew every day at 6 pm across the country to remind everyone they should be at home until the following morning. The use of vehicles was prohibited, unless someone has a special license, mainly for medical teams and food supply chains. During this time, the government was increasing its capabilities in random testing reaching today to around 10’000 tests a day to track the disease. The Government also created a detection app that notifies users if they have been in contact with a COVID-19 patient.
These swift and forceful actions is what has kept the country to under 1000 confirmed cases and 9 unfortunate deaths. Jordan did keep its border open with some countries to ensure the flow of goods. Tests for truck drivers are performed on the border crossings. Many of which are non-Jordanians found to be infected are counted among those infected in Jordan, but dealt with according to a certain protocol with those countries.
If we compare Jordan with nearby countries we will see:
Jordan’s aggressive measures are finally easing up. The government recently lifted all restrictions on businesses to activate the economy. Many businesses are back to work but following physical distancing, wearing masks and proper hygiene guidelines. However, schools, universities, wedding and funeral gatherings are still prohibited.
Having said all of this brings me to tourism. Without a safe clean healthy environment, how would you enjoy your vacation or business travel?
Today Jordan announced the start of its domestic tourism program. It is supported by the Ministry of Tourism and the Jordan Tourism Board offering a variety of experiences throughout the Kingdom to encourage Jordanians to go out and enjoy after the lockdown, yet, taking into consideration the safety and health measures set by the Ministry of Health. The program subsidize domestic flights from Amman the capital city to the Red Sea Resort of Aqaba at reasonable prices, transportation in busses at 70% load factor for free, experiences, trips and other services supported by 40% to make it affordable for locals to enjoy.
Hotels in Aqaba are enjoying high occupancy rates over weekends, yet the challenge remains to keep them busy throughout the week.
Jordanians do like to travel. In 2019 more than 400’000 travelled to Turkey with a similar number to Egypt, over 100’000 to Dubai in addition to others to Europe and Asia. The potential is there for domestic tourism to assist the tourism sector a bit. It’s known that it will not replace the International tourism flow to Jordan which had a record year in 2019 having more than 5 million arrivals, yet it can do something. This is a first step, still more is needed for other tourism entities to sustain their businesses. The Government did extend some support yet more is to be done.
What is needed as I have mentioned this several times is to know when Airports will open? I do understand and appreciate the concerns the Government has, but having a date is essential for planning. According to officials, airports may open for International flights mid-July or in August. That all depends on the pandemic development not only in Jordan but also in target markets Jordan is planning to focus on. There will be certain measures at Airports and border crossings set by the Ministry of health.
Jordan will be probably looking at a model of creating green safe corridors with countries that are similar in terms of the number of cases, number of tests conducted, number of cured patients and unfortunate deaths.
Yes maybe the measures taken were a bit strict, but I as a Jordanian am very proud of what my country did in containing and crushing down this pandemic. We are very confident more than any time in the past with our capabilities and medical teams. I take this chance to thank them deeply for all what they have been doing and still are and to all medical teams around the world who sacrifice their lives for us to be healthy. Thank you.
We are anxious to unwrap this beautiful unique destination that is Jordan for you to enjoy once again. I trust that tomorrow will be better. Jordan will be ready to extend its warm welcome as it always did.
Ahlan Wa Sahlan
Welcome to Jordan
”Adel M. AminTravel & Tourism Expert // Former Deputy Managing Director - Jordan Tourism Board