Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project

Bank Al-Etihad learn about the potential of Jordan’s tourism sector

28 Mar 2019

USAID BEST and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (MoTA) recently implemented a tourism awareness session for Bank al-Etihad’s SME credit and relationship teams as part of a USAID BEST initiative to improve the willingness of banks to lend to tourism entities. In the past few years, particularly since the 2010 slump in visitors to Jordan, the tourism sector has faced challenges in obtaining financing due a perception of it being a risky investment. USAID BEST is working with local banks and other stakeholders to address this challenge.

As one of its partner banks, the training for relevant Bank Al-Etihad staff is helping to change perceptions that have been ingrained since the tourism drop.

According to Shatha Bdair, SME Relationship Manager at Bank Al Etihad, “The training was very useful and introduced new information regarding the potential of tourism in recent years since prior downturns from 2010.”

The awareness session featured an overview of the tourism sector’s performance since 2015, expectations for major Jordan tourism hubs and national tourism statistics. An example presented was the steady growth of visitors to Petra, which saw a 33% growth in visitors in back-to-back years from 2017 to 2018. Current expectations for 2019 are for total visitor numbers to exceed 1 million, which would more than double visitor numbers from four years earlier in 2015.

The session also detailed the technical assistance undertaken by USAID to equip tourism businesses seeking loans with the skills to develop strong applications that are more likely to be accepted by the banks.

As Shatha Bdair explains, “One of the issues banks face when supporting tourism enterprises is just how much our applicants know regarding the tourism sector and how well they present their business plan and market research. One of the things that helps us is that USAID BEST assists us by helping applicants in developing such materials. In doing so, we will be more able to financially back the sector as a whole.”

USAID BEST has worked since 2016 to improve access to finance for businesses, investors and entrepreneurs operating in the tourism sector. Increasing access to finance works to improve the business climate and increase competitiveness of Jordan’s tourism sector, allowing tourism SMEs to grow and sustain their businesses and introduce new tourism products to attract tourists.