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AMMAN — European low-cost carriers Ryanair, EasyJet and Norwegian Airlines will start flights from several European cities to Amman and Aqaba as of November 1, an official said on Tuesday.
Each week, Ryanair will operate 26 flights from Italy, Poland, Cyprus, Lithuania, Belgium, Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic to Amman. It will also operate eight flights per week from Greece, Italy, Bulgaria and Germany to Aqaba, Jordan Tourism Board Managing Director Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat told The Jordan Times on Tuesday.
EasyJet will operate two flights per week from London and Berlin to Aqaba and the Norwegian Airlines will operate two flights to Amman per week and one flight to Aqaba from Copenhagen per week, Arabiyat said.
The price for a round trip ticket via these flights to Jordan will not exceed JD100.
“This is a very important step that will significantly increase the number of tourists coming from all over Europe to Jordan… we have started to witness some indicators even before the flights start,” the official said.
All hotel rooms in the rose-red city of Petra are fully booked from October until May 2019, he said.
“There are around 2,000 hotel rooms in Petra and they are fully booked… A few years ago around 10 hotels in Petra were forced to shut down as business was slow. These hotels are back into operation and they are also fully booked,” he said during the interview.
“We are very optimistic that the start of these flights will contribute to further growth in the tourism sector, which has been witnessing significant growth in terms of revenues and number of visitors over the past years,” Arabiyat said.
In addition to these flights, a Russian airline will start operating two flights to Aqaba per week as of November.
“Currently, there are two companies from Russia that operate nine flights per week from Russia to Aqaba… The number of these chartered flights will increase to 11 per week when the third company starts operating the programme,” he said.
“The price of tickets to Jordan was a key obstacle to increasing the number of tourists to Jordan. This is now solved with all these flights. We now enjoy great connectivity at affordable prices for all”, he said.
According to figures from the Ministry of Tourism, the overall number of overnight visitors to the Kingdom rose by 7.7 per cent during the first three quarters of this year to 3.249 million compared to the same period of last year.
The number of overnight tourists from Europe during the January-September period of this year rose by 26 per cent to 355,633 compared to the same period last year. The number of overnight tourists from the US during this period rose by 16.9 per cent, while the number of overnight tourists from Africa rose by 10.1 per cent compared to the same period last year.
The number of overnight tourists from Asia also rose by 10.6 per cent during the first three quarters of this year compared to the same period of last year.
The tourism sector, which contributes around 14 per cent to the gross domestic product, is a key sector for stimulating economic growth.
“The growth in the sector and the expected rise in number of tourists will help increase the volume of foreign direct investments in the field, which will eventually result in creating jobs for Jordanians,” said the official.
“We believe and hope that tourism revenues will be doubled by 2020 and that the sector’s contribution to the economy will reach 20 per cent by that time. We are already working on several plans to achieve the target,” he said.