The Economic Growth for Sustainable Tourism Project is the latest in a three-phase USAID tourism industry development initiative. Since the start of the first USAID tourism project (Siyaha) in 2005, USAID has allocated a total of $62 million in direct funding to develop Jordan’s economy through tourism, the Kingdom’s largest economic sector. Today, tourism is Jordan’s largest private sector contributor to GDP and foreign exchange, and supports more jobs than any other industry. This phase is planned to conclude in December 2014.
Background on USAID’s tourism development in Jordan
USAID’s tourism development project is its largest dedicated tourism development project in the world. The project’s work has been reported on in four continents and has provided models of best practice to other countries via USAID Washington.
For Jordan, tourism is a strategic industry. It is the largest sector in the economy, contributing over 14% of GDP. It is also the second largest earner of foreign exchange after remittances (generating $3.4 billion in
2010) and is the largest generator of employment.
As a result, a Jordan Tourism Development Strategy was developed under USAID/AMIR 2.0 (launched by HM King Abdullah at the 2005 World Economic Forum), and its implementation was supported by USAID through the first USAID tourism project known as Siyaha (2005-2008). Under the $19 million Siyaha project, USAID/Jordan leveraged over $90 million in funds to support tourism development across Jordan.
Building on the success of the Siyaha project, the $31.5 million USAID Jordan Tourism Development Project (2008-2013) sought to leverage additional public and private funds by working with the Government of Jordan, private sector and other foreign donors. The Italian, Greek, German and Irish governments co-invested in project initiatives, as did the United Nations Foundation’s World Heritage Alliance. Under this phase of
the USAID tourism project, tens of thousands of people in hospitality and tourism were up-skilled and support was given to grow tourism receipts by $500 million.
Throughout its work gender integration and empowerment was prioritized. A focus was placed on encouraging women to enter the sector and supporting those who do. The overriding majority of cooperatives supported by both phases of the USAID tourism project are women-led and women-focused.
USAID’s tourism project worked in a wide spectrum of tourism development, and archaeological and natural conservation. Activities implemented across Jordan span several areas, such as destination management, tourism trails, education, training, awareness, marketing and conservation.
• The project supported archaeological conservation of key sites such as the Amman Citadel, Madaba and Petra, and improved management of the Wadi Rum Nature Reserve.
• An extensive, nationwide training program was implemented that improved hygienic handling of food, housekeeping skills and customer service at tourism establishments throughout the country.
Cultural and tourist attractions were diversified by establishing and developing parades, festivals, and other authentic experiences.
• To enhance tourism promotion and marketing, the project supported better promotion of Jordan as an attractive destination internationally and strengthened industry marketing and e-marketing business capacity.
• Jordanian handicrafts, from weaving to pottery to mosaics, were improved; designs were enhanced and products are better displayed and marketed to tourists.
• Bachelor and diploma programs in tourism and hospitality at universities and colleges were streamlined and transformed.
To achieve its goals, the project is focusing on nine main initiatives: