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Cruise ships, low-cost airlines propel Aqaba tourism

AMMAN — Aqaba is witnessing a boom in tourism with the arrival of cruise ships carrying thousands of tourists, which gives an added boost to the hospitality sector and related businesses, according to officials. 

The ongoing efforts to promote Aqaba ports as a global destination for cruise ship tourism are paying off, resulting in an increase in the number of ships received at Aqaba ports in comparison with previous years. 

Hamzeh Hajj Hassan, the commissioner the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), told The Jordan Times that since January, 36 cruise ships have docked at the Aqaba port. 

There is a 400-per cent increase in the number of cruise ship tourists during the first three months of this year in comparison with last year, he said.

He also noted that over 60 per cent of tourist arrivals through King Hussein Airport are via low cost carriers.

Mohammad Qasem, Jordan Hotel Association spokesperson told The Jordan Times that the estimated number of tourists to Jordan is expected to exceed six million tourists this year. 

“Petra and Aqaba have received a remarkable number of tourists this year,” Qasem added. 

Although Ramadan is usually a “quiet” month for the hospitality sector, this year’s numbers are not disappointing, Qasem said. 

Qasem also noted the hospitality sector has to be well equipped to keep up with the high demand. He called for more public-private partnerships to enable the private sector to meet the increasing demand. 

“Many destinations like Petra, Madaba and northern cities of Jordan need additional accommodation facilities,” Qasem added. 

Haj Hassan noted that all procedures are provided to facilitate the entry, docking and departure of cruise ships to and from Jordan. Additionally, Aqaba is well equipped to host cruise ship tourists and provide them with the services they need, he added. 

“Aqaba has become a sea bridge for global tourism and is currently one of the most important cruise ship destinations,” Haj Hassan added.