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Jordan ready for the hospitality boom

Jordan: Thursday, June 15 - 2006 @ 11:01

Meanwhile, the results of a survey highlighted last month at the World Economic Forum in Egypt reveal a buoyant attitude towards the Middle East from C-level executives around the globe, suggesting even more visitors, and business, could be heading to the kingdom.

Planning ahead

The Vocational Training Corporation programme, part of the Jordan Tourism Development Project, is to train 4,200 workers in a variety of hospitality related disciplines. The Director General of the VTC, Khalil Kurdi, told the Jordan Times that the one year training course would be split into two components.

For the first six months, the students will learn about the latest developments in the hospitality industry and will gain a theoretical grounding, but the second part of the training will be hands-on and some of Jordan’s top five star hotels have agreed to accommodate the trainees.

The training programme, which will be a pilot project to start with, comes at a time when Jordan’s tourism industry looks set to develop significantly. Official figures, published in the Jordan Times, reveal that the kingdom now has 480 hotels open for business, with 12 opening in the past year alone.

Once the major real estate projects in the Aqaba Special Economic Zone come on stream, such as the Saraya project, the Ayla Oasis and the Tala Bay Marina resort, not to mention other projects around the kingdom like the Abdali downtown Amman project, the hotel room count in the country is expected to rise above 40,000.

Altering perspectives

It is, of course, one thing to build hotels but an entirely different thing to actually fill them with guests. But a recent survey carried out by PR agency Edelman, and its Middle East partner Asda’a, contains some encouraging news for hotel chains and the Jordanian economy as whole.

A poll of 76 CEOs, COOs and other top executives in the US, Europe and Asia suggested that typically held stereotypical views of the Middle East might be crumbling, according to Jordan’s Star Weekly.

Almost two thirds of those surveyed said oil and a growing market were among the first things that came to mind when they heard the word “Arab”.

In a previous 2004 survey, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had featured quite prominently and, while not much might have actually changed on that particular score, the furious appetite for investment and development in the Middle East region has certainly been absorbed by the higher echelons of the business world.

One possible eye-brow raising statistic gleaned from the poll is that 87% of American executives would be very happy to do business in the region. This is good news for Jordan, the Levant and the entire Middle East, as major investment is sorely needed in many countries to kick start their economies.

Jordan, with its expanding hospitality sector, looks well placed to benefit from potential investment, and increased interest, from overseas but, with unemployment rates still hovering near 15% and equally high poverty levels, it will be hoping that positive attitudes from abroad become positive actions on the ground.

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Thursday, June 15- 2006 @ 11:01 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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