Celebrities and ‘revenge travel’ expected to hit tourism records


Published: 2023-03-23 15:42

Last Updated: 2024-06-14 21:50

Editor: Talah Turk

Celebrities and ‘revenge travel’ expected to hit tourism records
Celebrities and ‘revenge travel’ expected to hit tourism records

From Oprah Winfrey to Salma Hayek Pinault, Jordan is benefitting from free publicity from the world’s most sought-after celebrities, who visited and fell in love with the Kingdom.

US television personality Oprah Winfrey shared a few pictures and videos of her tour of Jordan with her 22.1 million Instagram followers and 20 million on Facebook.

“Visited Jordan this week and there was so much to see and experience!” she told her fans.

“We visited the site where John the Baptist baptized Jesus, Petra, and all its fascinations, camels, and the spot where the big boulder comes rolling out of Indiana Jones,” she shared.

Winfrey concluded: “So much history there in the “Rose City,” voted one of the 7 new wonders of the world. It takes 3 days to really see it all we only spent 3 hours. Put it on your must-see list if you haven’t already!”

Her Jordan post was liked by 513,531 likes on Instagram and 50,000 on Facebook.

Salma Hayek Pinault visited Wadi Rum and shared pictures with her 23.2 million Instagram followers with the caption: “inhaling the magic of Jordan,” in a post that got 263,940 likes.

- ‘Advertizing like no other’ -

Vice Chairman of the Jordan Inbound Tour Operators Association (JITOA) Awni Kawar told Roya that this kind of content shared by A-list celebrities is the best form of free advertising, with an added value worth millions.

When Jordan gets such priceless advertising, “we must keep the momentum going, capitalize on the publicity and follow up on business in the relevant market, especially in the North American market.”

This is exceptionally important, he said, since most of Jordan’s tourists arrive from North America.

Notably, a total of 80,729 tourists visited Jordan from the Americas in 2022, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

- Celebrity tourists over the years -

From classical cinematic productions dating back to the 1960s to the age of social media and the digital revolution, Jordan takes center stage as a celebrity go-to destination.

Most A-list celebrities that come to Jordan arrive as part of a crew to film a movie in Wadi Rum, Kawar pointed out.

The first big production that supported Jordan in taking center stage was Lawrence of Arabia in 1962. Among the most prominent movies over the years are Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), The Martian (2015), and Aladdin 2 (2019).

Jordan’s first big break in Hollywood was in Lawrence of Arabia, which picked up nearly USD 70 million at the worldwide Box Office. Its latest was on Aladdin 2, which took home more than USD 1.054 billion at the worldwide box office.

Throughout the years, Jordan continued to be a favored filming destination for Hollywood giants and stole the spotlight on an international level with more and more stars visiting the Kingdom and appreciating its beauty.

- Ongoing challenges -

We must not forget that the global tourism sector took a hard hit because of the coronavirus crisis (2020-2022), which many countries are still recovering from, Kawar said.

He, however, did speak of the light at the end of the tunnel, referring to the recently coined term “revenge travel,” which means traveling as a way of making up for a lost time during the pandemic.

The local tourism sector also has its own set of unique obstacles including seasonality; as Jordan’s high tourist seasons are spring and autumn, which amount to a total of six months a year.

Additionally, due to limited resources, Jordan can only cater to a certain number of tourists with its current maximum capacity.

According to official 2022 figures from the Ministry of Tourism, there are a total of 607 functioning hotels in Jordan, including 29,981 hotel rooms and 55,866 beds.

“These are challenges that are yet to be resolved in order for Jordan to welcome more tourists who wish to visit the Kingdom,” he said. Otherwise, the local tourism sector would have the willingness but not the ability to receive more visitors from across the globe.

- Recovery within arm’s reach -

Before these celebrities made their way to Jordan and shared content on social media, the Kingdom’s tourism industry recorded 20 percent growth in 2022, compared to the year before, Kawar noted.

According to the Minister of Tourism Makram Al-Qaisi the number of tourists until the end of February reached nearly 950,000 people.

Qaisi added that the tourism income reached nearly USD 1 billion in the first two months of 2023.

According to Kawa, due to the “free advertising’’ that celebrities like Winfrey and Hayek offer, the local sector is expected to exceed pre-pandemic levels recorded in 2019, which was dubbed “The Golden Year” for tourism.

In 2019, approximately 1.3 million people visited Petra, which is the benchmark value for Jordan in tourism.

Sector experts are “extremely optimistic” that the Kingdom will not only go back to but exceed, those figures by December 2023.