Faith-based travelers hold the key to Jordan’s growing tourism industry, Kevin Wright told 150 local travel professionals during a workshop in Amman, Jordan, on Saturday. Wright, NTA’s director of growth markets, was invited to speak by the USAID Jordan Tourism Development Project.
“As more people travel on faith-based trips than ever before, Jordan is well-positioned to capitalize on a bigger share of the North American religious market,” Wright said. “The reason for this is simple: Jordan delivers a biblically rich destination combined with a dynamic vacation experience of culture, history, adventure and fun. This is what today’s faith-based traveler is searching for.”
Among Jordan’s attractions for faith-based travelers, the two most prominent biblical sites are Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan, the baptism site of Jesus; and Mount Nebo, the site from where Moses viewed the Promised Land. Other places of interest include Jerash, Umm Qais, Madaba, Amman, the Dead Sea and the ancient city of Petra.
The country also offers an array of authentic experiences for visitors, according to Malia Asfour, director of the Jordan Tourism Board of North America. “The people of Jordan are extremely hospitable, and we have first-class accommodations that are quite lovely,” Asfour said. “However, I recommend going off the beaten path and camping under the stars in Wadi Rum, or spending a day at our famous Feynan Ecolodge learning the ways of life of the local Bedouin tribes.”
Wright said that, in addition to religious exploration and affirmation, people of faith travel together because they enjoy the fellowship and fun of doing things with like-minded people. In Jordan those activities can include riding camels, tasting local cuisine, meeting with local faith communities and participating in volunteer projects.
In his talk, Wright outlined avenues into the North American religious travel market and explained what Jordan tourism professionals can do to attract more faith-based travelers. “It’s important that you identify and establish relationships with North American trade professionals who sell to faith-based clients,” Wright told the group. “The best ways to achieve this includes making personal sales calls and outreach efforts, attending religious travel events and, when appropriate, hiring U.S.-based sales representatives.”
Prior to the seminar Wright participated in an NTA-organized Holy Land Product Development Trip that brought NTA tour operators to the area. By visiting iconic sites, meeting with local suppliers and experiencing the culture of Jordan and Israel, the tour operators can develop Holy Land itineraries for faith-based group travel.
The session that Wright addressed was part of a “Know Your Niche” USAID seminar series held in cooperation with the Jordan Tourism Board and the Jordan Inbound Tour Operators Association. The organizations’ shared goal for Saturday’s session was to help tour suppliers, receptive operators and destination marketers expand their reach into the growing faith-tourism market.