BEST Project October 2015 Newsletter

Introduction

The USAID Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project (BEST) has announced its Tourism Partnership Fund (TPF) grants program. The TPF grants aim to serve as catalysts for investments that will substantially increase competitiveness in the tourism sector. The USAID BEST project is also working to support the development a Tourism Competitiveness Index for Jordan, which will measure the factors that make it attractive to develop business in Jordan’s travel and tourism industry. In continuation of previous USAID tourism project efforts, BEST project is supporting implementation of restaurant and hotel classification standards around the country. BEST is also conducting nationwide focus group discussions with tourism enterprises, in addition to an online survey, with the goal of increasing access of small to medium tourism enterprises to debt financing and working capital, while improving lenders’ willingness to provide tourism loans. Read on for more about USAID BEST project’s latest initiatives.


 

Announcing USAID BEST Project's Tourism Partnership Fund (TPF) grants program

Tourism Partnership Fund (TPF) grants aim to serve as catalysts for investments that will substantially increase competitiveness in the tourism sector. Grants issued under the TPF must support implementation of the Jordan National Tourism Strategy (which will be updated to cover the period 2016 - 2020) with the ultimate objective of contributing to tourism industry and objectives of the USAID BEST Project.

See our Annual Program Statement No. 1 for Tourism Partnership Fund Grants Program at this link: http://goo.gl/IquUEQ

Under this program, BEST will issue grants to tourism entities, businesses or professional associations for activities that clearly support BEST activities’ objectives, promoting innovative ideas, assisting service providers to meet international quality standards, and promote collaboration on product marketing and promotion.

Please see Section II of this documentfor a more detailed description of BEST project objectives. The TPF will also be used as an instrument to realize public-private partnerships (PPPs) that enhance foreign and domestic investment, and contribute to ensuring tourism resources are protected and enhanced.

The overall areas eligible for grant support are:

  1. Business enabling environment to support competitiveness
  2. Tourism asset development (including destinations, sites, experiences and education institutions)
  3. Destination marketing, international communication and sales
  4. Improved access to finance for tourism enterprises
  5. Promoting gender equity in tourism
  6. Creating public-private partnerships (PPPs) for expanded tourism investment and promotion

For a more detailed description of initiatives that may be eligible for grant or technical assistance support please see: http://goo.gl/IquUEQ. Please share with entrepreneurs and companies that may be eligible for support.


 

Tourism Competitiveness Index for Jordan aims to achieve a strong and sustainable travel and tourism industry

The USAID Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project is working in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and Oxford Economics to facilitate development of a Tourism Competitiveness Index (TCI) for Jordan. A Tourism Competitiveness Index is a measurement of the factors that make it attractive to develop business in the travel and tourism industry of individual countries, rather than a measure of a country’s attractiveness as a tourist destination. In the face of growing competition from tourism destinations around the world, Jordan’s tourism industry must enhance its competitiveness in order to fulfill its true potential.

BEST project conducted a workshop and one-on-one consultations in October with key stakeholder organizations to discuss the development of Jordan’s Tourism Competitiveness Index methodology. Participating entities include: the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, Department of Statistics, Jordan Tourism Board, Jordan Applied University, Jordan Society of Tourism and Travel Agents, Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, Jordan Federation of Tourism Associations and USAID Jordan Monitoring and Evaluation Support Project.

The TCI will incorporate the National Tourism Strategy, Government of Jordan tourism strategy targets, and BEST project targets and will measure progress towards their achievements over time. The TCI will also compare Jordan’s competitiveness and progress to a set of relevant comparator countries covering a range of relevant globally available indicators. The overall aim of the TCI is to serve as an intelligent system and road map for practical informing and influencing of policy, strategy, interventions and decision making.


 

USAID BEST project supporting implementation of restaurant and hotel classification standards around the country

  

The national Restaurant Classification Standards scheme, which was previously launched with USAID tourism project support in 2014 and piloted in Aqaba, aims to improve the quality of service offered to guests at tourism restaurants around the country. USAID BEST project signed a memorandum of understanding with Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) and Jordan Restaurant Association to raise the standards of service and operations of tourism restaurants in Aqaba through the Restaurant Classification Standards scheme. BEST project conducted a refresher course for five previously certified Approved Assessors, and trained two new ASEZA staff as Approved Assessors who are now qualified to implement the Restaurant Classification Standards in Aqaba. The training included field visits to a number of restaurants in Aqaba.

BEST project conducted an intensive four-day workshop to build the capacity of seven ASEZA and Aqaba Hotel Association staff as Approved Assessors to implement the national Hotel Classification Standards. The training included profiling and competency tests for potential assessors, technical skills training on hotel classification standards and procedures, interpersonal skills to communicate effectively and build trust with hotel owners and operators, including report writing, problem solving and team leading skills. Part of the training on technical skills included a visit to Kempinski Hotel Aqaba to conduct an onsite tour of all departments. General Manager of Kempinski Hotel Aqaba Mr. Athanassios Manos briefed the trainees on the value of providing quality service in order to satisfy both guests and employees, as well as on the importance of the guest’s point of view when classifying a hotel.


 

BEST conducting “access to finance” assessment to identify needs and impediments faced by tourism SMEs

The BEST project aims to increase access of small to medium tourism enterprises to debt financing and working capital. The project is conducting a rapid assessment in the form of an online survey, in partnership with MoTA and Jordan Federation of Tourism Associations (JFTA), to identify access to finance needs and impediments faced by tourism businesses and investors. The survey was launched in early October along with a series of consultative focus group discussions taking place around the country. Eleven focus groups were held to date in Madaba, Ajloun, Irbid, Salt, Jerash, Tafileh, Shobak, Wadi Rum, Petra, Aqaba and Azraq. BEST is also conducting a review of existing tourism lending products available in the market through national and international institutions with the aim of improving lenders’ willingness to provide tourism loans. 


 

Highlights:

  • BEST is supporting the transformation of Sharif Hussein House museum in Aqaba as a new tourism experience. The Royal Hashemite Court allocated funds for the design and renovations which will be implemented in cooperation with USAID BEST project, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Department of Antiquities, Ministry of Public Works and Housing and ASEZA.
  • Madaba Tourism Association (MTA) has been awarded a five-year concession agreement by MoTA to invest in and operate the historic Saraya Building as a heritage attraction in Madaba. BEST project is supporting the development of concept ideas.
  • BEST has been conducting a nationwide survey of hotels, restaurants, handcraft and other tourism businesses to assess the training needs of the tourism workforce. The survey will also provide an up-to-date perspective on Jordan’s current manpower capacity along with education and training opportunities for human resource development in tourism.
  • BEST supported Jordan Tourism Board’s production of a promotional video about Wadi Rum, capitalizing on the release of the movie “The Martian” which was filmed in Wadi Rum. Watch “Wadi Rum: Out of this world” here.

 

Upcoming Events:

  • November 25 - Access to Finance focus group JITOA
  • December 15 - Digital Marketing and Social Media Workshop