The Jordanian government will offer four tourism projects in the north of the country, cumulatively valued at about USD 100 million, as public-private partnerships this year, a senior official told Zawya.
"We have chosen the north because it has more than 200,000 visitors each year, with total revenues of USD 1.3 million. This is a very low amount, as there are some problems with the tourism infrastructure, and we need to develop the area to become more attractive to tourists," said Abdul Razak Arabiyat, director general of the Jordan Tourism Board.
Jordan is seeking to increase the number of tourists as the sector is one of the fastest growing. Tourism revenues rose by 22% to USD 3.3 billion in the first six months of 2012 compared to USD 2.7 billion in the same period of 2011, Arabiyat said.
Of the new projects, three are being developed in Jarash at a cost of USD 70.3 million and the fourth in Ajloun for USD 29.7 million. All four will be offered on a build-operate-transfer basis for 30 years, Arabiyat said.
Lawyer and economist Ghassan Muammar told Zawya he is skeptical of such projects adding significantly to tourism growth, for two reasons: one, the taxes levied on the sector are high, he said, resulting in lower returns for tourism operators. Two, other nations like Egypt and Lebanon are conducting more effective marketing campaigns globally and Jordan needs to learn from them, he said.