Jordan has been an example in a troubled world when it comes staying out of trouble in the field of travel and tourism. A recently concluded UNWTO travel and tourism conference in Petra dealt with this issue and the Petra Declaration is becoming a model on how regional cooperation can address the issue of safety in tourism.
Sandwiched in between some of the hottest conflict regions including Iraq, Syria, Israel and Palestine, the Kingdom of Jordan was able to remain independent and safe. This had not changed even after last week a Canadian tourist was killed in a terror attack in that country.
The chance a tourist would get caught in an incident is about the same chance a tourist get hit by lightning twice.
The same is true in other countries. Last week’s attack on a Christmas market in Berlin was terrible, but the chance for a tourist to be caught in a terror attack in Germany is like winning the lottery twice. Days after the attack some of the press makes Germany look like a destination of widespread terror. This is wrong and it multiplies the outcome a terror organization can only hope for.
Tourism is a major foreign currency earner in Jordan and a major part of the economy in the Kingdom. Jordan has an excellent tourism infrastructure, it has trained and educated experts ready to show tourists thousands of years of history. Tourists taste some of the best food in the world and enjoy exploring the many shopping options, the beach in Aqaba or the Dead Sea. Hearing the silence of the desert is what the Beduin guide wants a tourist to “hear” It’s a wonderful experience.
It would be in the interest of countries including the United States to assist the travel and tourism industry in Jordan to function and to expand. The truth in travel warnings has to be explained. UNWTO should take a lead in finding a globally accepted formula.
The travel and tourism industry creates and maintains jobs for a young generation of Jordanians with great challenges. No one wants Islamic State to recruit frustrated jobless people with no outlook to a better future.
Jordanians are highly trained and motivated and tourism is not only considered a job but a lifestyle and an industry to belong to. Tourism is Peace, and Jordanians know this. His Majesty the King of Jordan has personally supported the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism.
In the United States a young generation often unable to identify where they should belong to join racist motivated gangs, get involved in shootings and violence or become drug addicts. In Jordan, the danger to fall for Islamic extremist is a real danger. It’s in everyone’s interest to keep tourism flourishing and send a message of hope – and a message with a travel warnings may have a devastating effect.
Jordanians are protective to tourism and travelers. It makes this country safe and welcoming.
Travel warnings are a bigger threat to the Kingdom than terrorism. Terrorism is present, but it’s even more present in Paris, Nice, Brussels, Berlin or Istanbul. It’s present in a different form in the United States- and way bigger. In Chicago, dozens of people get shot every weekend, but it’s not called terrorism, and no country issues warnings to travel to the U.S.
The world needs to work together and find a way to explain the truth and fine print in travel warnings for a concerned traveler.