Head of Jordan tourist board dismisses fears of unrest

The head of the Jordan Tourism Board has dismissed fears that the country could be sucked into the social unrest sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.

Speaking in London on Wednesday, tourism board managing director Nayef Al Fayez described recent protests as “a sign of a healthy process in Jordan”.

He said: “Protests have happened before. The maximum number of protestors was 5,000 to 10,000. There has been a revolution in Egypt, a revolution in Tunisia. But in Jordan the situation is normal - similar to London after the demonstration two weeks ago.”

London saw a protest against government spending cuts of between 250,000 and 400,000 people on March 26.

Al Fayaz hailed the start of easyJet flights from Gatwick to Amman this month as sending “a very positive message” on travel to the country.

EasyJet flies to Amman three times a week, BMI flies daily and British Airways announced yesterday it would code-share on Royal Jordanian Airlines’ daily flights from Heathrow.

Al Fayaz said the country saw a fall in UK package tourists in March, “maybe because Jordan is often combined with Egypt or Syria”. But he added: “We saw an increase in independent travellers.”

The UK is Jordan’s biggest European market, sending 73,000 visitors to the country last year.

Jordan’s neighbour Syria has seen violent repression of recent protests, with security forces firing at demonstrators in Latakia at the weekend and 37 people reported killed on protests last Friday - most in the southern city of Der’aa.

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