Saturday, September 12, 2015

“Tourism grows sick but never dies” – Meeting Dr. Suleiman Farajat

     Recent theories suggest that tourism brings together multiple elements into one place. This fights the idea that there are certain constant spirits or identifications with a place, but rather that these different elements are conditional and may alter from time to time. As a consequence of many elements being interwoven with the volatile global flow of people, a place can be temporarily stable but then be followed by a threat of chaos such as lesser economic or cultural wellbeing. Thus the stability of tourism in a certain area is very dependent on the quality of storytelling by tourism workers, the meeting of the trouists' expectations of infrastructure, but also the practices of tourists and the continuity of their visits.
On the fist day at the American Institution for Oriental Research (ACOR), Dr. Suleiman Farajat’s (Dean for development and Quality Affairs Department of Tourism Management, Faculty of Archeology and Tourism at the University of Jordan) gave us an interesting presentation on the history of Jordan as well as an insight into the developments and current instability of tourism in the country. One of the major changes to tourism in Jordan was the nomination of Petra as a UNESCO sight in 1985, the most important turning point however, proved to be the peace treaty of Oslo between the Jordanians and the Israelis in 1994. After that, the United States were able to convince the Jordanian Government to invest in better infrastructure and building hotels in and around Petra to boost the sight, causing more tourists to visit the country. A further change and increase in tourism came about when Petra was named one of the seven modern wonders of the world, increasing the number of visitors again and at the same time the demand for tourist guides, accommodations and better infrastructure and organization. Unfortunately, however, since 2010 the incidents and political situation in the countries surrounding Jordan have caused tourism to decline dramatically. Potential visitors started thinking that the country is at war, despite only very small and almost no incidents happening at the Jordanian borders and causing the tourism sector to suffer significantly.
Finally, Dr. Farajat mentioned that Jordanians have been over relying on tourism and disregarding its potential volatile character and at the same time forgetting to target other markets, such as Eastern Europe rather than merely advertising Jordan in the Unites States and focusing on Western European countries. However, he concluded with a positive outlook, stating that "tourism grows sick but never dies." Consequently, the current weakened strength of tourism in Jordan resulting from the influence of several elements is a clear sign of the volatile or unstable features of this sector.

Tim Edenson, 'Tourism' International Encyclopedia of Human Geography (2009), 308-309.

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