Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project

Improving awareness of incentives for tourism businesses in Jordan

9 May 2019
Bilal al-Hamour

In 2016, the Jordan Investment Commission (JIC) launched a set of new tourism investment incentives for the tourism sector to encourage investment in governorates outside of Amman (excluding development zones) through customs duties exemptions, reduced sales tax and an income tax freeze. However, few tourism investors were initially aware of them due to a lack of capacity at JIC to promote them to the private sector.

To encourage investment in the tourism sector, USAID BEST has worked intensively with JIC and other government bodies since then to spread awareness of these incentives across Jordan.

As of April 2019, 89 new and existing tourism businesses worth more than JD446 million have benefited from the incentives, with 811 jobs created through new tourism investments and more than JD 5.5 million invested in new equipment and machinery.

“The incentives present new and relevant considerations for tourism businesses and investors,” said Bilal al-Hamouri, Director of Incentives and Facilitation Directorate at the Jordan Investment Commission, adding that “They benefit investors and entrepreneurs, afford new work opportunities for local communities and improve the economic conditions.” 

In 2017 BEST conducted a baseline survey and determined that only 26.32% of tourism businesses were aware that these benefits were available to them.  Subsequently, BEST designed and implemented rolling tourism incentives awareness campaigns in partnership with the Jordan Investment Commission, Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Petra Development Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA), tourism business associations, partner banks, and other stakeholders.

As a result, BEST reached more than 800 investors and other stakeholders through live roadshows and social media campaigns, leading to increased awareness and access to the incentives. A follow-up survey in March 2019 determined that the proportion of businesses aware of the incentives had roughly doubled.

Awareness of the incentives particularly spread in the Petra region, with the PDTRA reporting in February 2019 that 23 hotels, restaurants, tourist camps, and travel agencies were benefiting from the investment incentives. BEST had worked closely with PDTRA to develop their capacity to attract and grow tourism investment in Petra during 2018, supporting PDTRA in making incentives for the Petra region accessible to investors and promoting their procedures at live roadshows. PDTRA officials have requested further BEST support in this activity, with PDTRA’s Chief Commissioner Dr. Suleiman Farajat citing it as a ‘key activity that should be continued’ in 2019.  

USAID BEST continues to work to increase access to finance for tourism enterprises and entrepreneurs and strengthen their ability to access capital for tourism ventures.