The war in Gaza has already had a terrible effect on Jordan’s economy. Since the war started, visitors have been cancelling trips to the country, out of worries about spillover violence, not just from the fighting in Gaza, but also the possibility of a major conflict between Israel and Hezbollah on the Israel-Lebanon border, and from the upsurge in violence in Judea and Samaria (a/k/a the West Bank. By dint of repetition, beginning immediately in 1950 with all the Arab and Muslim delegates using “the West Bank” speeches at the UN, the rest of the world quickly chose to forget the venerable toponyms that had been in constant use for 3000 years, not just by the Jews, but by the entire Western world. Take a look at any American, British, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Russian maps of the area up to 1950, and you will see “Judea” and “Samaria” clearly marked. And nowhere will you find “West Bank.” But here we are, in 2023, and practically everyone now uses, without giving it a thought, “West Bank” for “Judea and Samaria.”)
No one likes to visit what is a war zone, and the result has been a body blow to the tourism sector in Jordan. The country is losing about $250 million each month in revenue from tourism. More on this loss to Jordan’s economy can be found here: “Jordan Losing Over $250 Million Per Month Due to Israel-Hamas War,” Algemeiner, December 27, 2023:
The Israel-Hamas war is having devastating effects on the Jordanian economy, according to the kingdom’s Minister of Tourism Makram Mustafa Queisi.
Queisi said on Tuesday that the rate of tourist cancellation since the beginning of the war in October is around 60 percent, which translates to over 200,000 visitors, according to Al-Arab, a pan-Arab newspaper published in London.
Can you blame those tourists cancelling trips to Jordan? It’s not just the violence in Gaza, though that would by itself be enough to dissuade many tourists, but that exchange of fire across Israel’s northern border between the Jewish state and Hezbollah in Lebanon. And there is also the continuing threat of Houthi drones being fired at ships in the Red Sea, with the Americans successfully shooting down most of those drones, and just now creating a naval task force, consisting of ships from major maritime nations, under American leadership, able to answer the Houthi threat — taking the fight if necessary to Yemen itself — in order to make the Red Sea safe again for commercial shipping. All of these stories that dominate the news, about Israel and Hamas fighting in Gaza, Hezbollah and Israel trading blows across the Lebanese-Israeli border, the Iran-backed militia Kataib Hezbollah attacking American bases in Syria and Iraq, quite understandably lead hundreds of thousands of tourists to cancel trips to Jordan. And there is another worry that puts would-be tourists off. Given that the majority of the population in Jordan is Palestinian, and angry at the Americans for continuing to stand by their Israeli ally, attacks on American tourists in Jordan are another source of justified concern.
If we want to reflect this number on income, we are talking approximately 180 to 200 million dinars [$253 to $281 million] per month,” which represents “a loss to the overall economy,” Queisi said.
“There will be significant losses to the economy, which means that every month there will be cancellations in hotel reservations and a decrease in the number of visitors by up to 60 or 70 percent,” he said.
The violence in the region will not soon die down. The Israelis have already said that they expect their campaign to destroy Hamas as a military threat will take “months,” and so the reluctance of visitors to come to Jordan will last at least as long.
In recent years, Jordan and Israel have considered cooperating on multiple joint economic and tourism initiatives including the Jordan Gateway Industrial Park, the construction of solar-power and desalination facilities in Israel, and joint tourism in the Gulf of Eilat-Aqaba….
All of those plans about “joint tourism initiatives” promoted by both Israel and Jordan, where package tours would include both countries’ offerings, and allow Jordan, whose main tourist attractions are the rose-red city of Petra, built by the Nabataeans, and Jerash, one of the best-preserved Roman cities in the world, to benefit from the attractiveness of Israel as a world destination for both religious (Jewish, Christian, and Muslim) and cultural tourists. Now, as long as the Gaza war lasts, all talk about joint Israeli-Jordanian tourism initiatives has stopped cold.
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