Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project

Tourism investment incentives open doors for Jordanian entrepreneurs

10 Jul 2017
Ahmad Al Silawi

"Today, with the investment incentives and loan products available to tourism projects, it has become possible as young investors to improve our projects even if we don’t start out with a lot of money,” said Ahmad Al Silhawi, the owner of Al Haram Tourism Restaurant in Irbid, which he opened seven years ago.

Ahmad recently learned of the investment incentives and loan products available to the tourism sector through attending an awareness session hosted in Irbid by USAID BEST. After the session, he applied to receive the incentives to reduce his costs and boost sales.

Last year the Jordanian government launched new investment incentives for the tourism sector to encourage investment in hotels, restaurants, amusement parks and conferences in governorates outside of Amman. Due to a lack of promotion, many entrepreneurs like Ahmad Al Silhawi were not aware of the funding available that could assist them in developing their tourism projects and ideas.

Mr. Al Silhawi learned about the incentives through an awareness session held in Irbid by the Jordan Investment Commission (JIC) in partnership with USAID BEST. The sessions brought together lenders and entrepreneurs to discuss the benefits of the incentives and how to access them. The incentives offer lowered sales tax and income taxes which lead to funds to leveraged funds for the projects.

“I used to work in a bank,” revealed Mr. Al Silhawi, who explained, “and what I can tell from my experiences is that the hardest thing for owners is dealing with the interest on the loans. That is exactly what makes them hesitant to take out a loan.”

Al Silhawi explains that although some business owners are interested in obtaining loans, high interest rates often prevent them from following through and hinders their overall ability to expand their business.

“Decreasing the sales tax to 7% allowed us to expand our sales and in turn improved our competitiveness in the market,” said Mr. Al Silhawi. He also said, “Reducing the income tax to 5% has also decreased the total cost for us to develop the restaurant.”

With the support of USAID BEST and JIC, Al Haram Tourism Restaurant has been able to expand in size and business. “As a young Jordanian investor it would be quite difficult for me to go through all these processes alone without any available support through the incentives,” said Mr. Al Silhawi.

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. As a result of the investment incentives campaign, other tourism businesses and investors like Ahmad are taking advantage of the available support.