New Tourism Report Called into Question

الأربعاء 21 أيار 2008

Written By Dean Peters

The Jordan Times is reporting that Fawwaz Khreisha of the Department of Antiquities, Samer Majali of Royal Jordanian and others have called into question the latest Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report (TTCR ) publish by the World Economic Forum (WEF); a document that asserts Jordan’s global rank among 130 countries dropped seven places from 46 to 53 last year.

After reading the specifics of the report myself, I tend to agree with the fromer – the WEF/TTCR metrics do not measure-up. Beginning with and citing section 2.1 of the document “Country/Economy Profile for Jordan,” on page 216, the 14 pillars indicate competitive advantage and the competitive disadvantage.

While I won’t go into detail on all the indicators, I will mention a few that are marked as disadvantageous that cause me to want more information on how they came to be considered as such:

4th Pillar – Health and Hygiene
While Jordan may not be Germany in terms of fastidiousness, measures that count directly towards travel interests, such as growing numbers of visitors whom seek Jordan as a destination for medical tourism should be included, or perhaps a physician to population ratio.

8th Pillar – Tourism infrastructure
Considering how much of the Jordanian GDP is comprised of and depends on tourism, I’d think this pillar needs more data points than merely ATMs accepting visa cards and presence of rental car companies. For example, where are the counts for trained tour guides, inbound travel packages, and/or expenditures and efforts to promote tourism through full-time agencies such as the Jordan Tourism Board North America?

9.04 – Broadband Internet Subscribers, rank 69 out of 130
Is anyone on the WEF/TTCR board panel aware of the fact that Jordan is currently in the process of re-paving the King’s Highway, virtually, by leveraging dark fiber available via the miles and miles of guidelines connecting the power towers that primarily support Jordan’s electrical infrastructure?

A deployment plan proven in preliminary field tests through Amman’s University Broadband Network and the School Broadband Network, it makes me wonder if the “subscribers” measure isn’t being given too much weigh over “adopters” of broadband? There’s a big difference between the two, and one I think the WEF/TTFR report overlooks.

9.05 – Mobile telephone subscriptions
MENAFN.com reports that “The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector has become the third largest contributor to the Kingdom’s economy, generating 10 per cent of the GDP and attracting JD150 million in investments annually.”

This is no surprise to anyone who keeps abreast of Arabic news outlets as they continually report how fiercely competitive the mobile sector in Jordan has become. A point that again calls into question WEF/TTCR’s sole choice of subscriptions over adopters as truly reflective of any country’s progressive deployment of emerging technologies.

3th Pillar – Natural Resources
While the quality of the natural environment ranks high, Jordan takes a big hit for “total known species,” a measure which compels me to ask: how does one accurately compare apples to oranges? Meaning, how does one compare the total species headcount in an arid region versus that of a rain forest? Is there a relative scale?

Similarly, is it just a matter of the Hashemite Kingdom sitting down and pushing out a piece of paperwork to declare the desert areas as nationally protected? Does the WEF give consideration to what such beauricratic bungling would have on indigenous Bedouins?

4th Pillar – Cultural Resources
I would assert that “Sports stadiums” without a balance of other factors is … as I stated earlier, a bit “Eurocentric.” Does one really get on a plan and visit Jordan to see football match? I mean, soccer is a great sport, but I’m too busy enjoying the Biblical and historic landmarks, but I guess that doesn’t count in terms of the WEF/TTC report as they did not include such cultural resources as a measure to offset stadiums.

Finally, and I don’t even know where to begin with the following metric — so I’ll just close my arguments with it as it is a perfect example of how off-the-mark I believe the WEF/TTCR’s standards are :

14.01 – Number of World Heritage cultural sites rank: 54/130
A simple count of World Heritage Cultural sites seems to emphasis that specific indicator, while Jordan has hundreds of sites that may not be official World heritage sites, but still offer abundant options for guests.

I understand Jordan is not without its problems – what nation isn’t? However, when it comes to the viability of sustainable tourism, I’m thinking that maybe the WEF/TTCR’s metrics don’t quite measure up to what they should be for most other locations not part of the EU.

The metrics used to compile this report are troubling at best and deceptive at worst. Jordan, while not a world leading tourist destination, is a growing market for tourism of many sorts. But applying metrics that boost the rank of European nations is unfair to all those working in the Jordanian tourism industry.