Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project

USAID BEST supporting Jordan Tour Guides Association to improve welfare and professional services of guides

22 May 2016

USAID Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project (BEST) is supporting Jordan Tour Guides Association (JTGA) through a grant to improve the welfare and quality of professional tour guides in Jordan. The grant signing ceremony took place between BEST and JTGA at BEST project offices on Thursday May 19, 2016. BEST will work with JTGA to improve the marketability and demand for Jordanian tour guides, develop a pilot guided walking trail in Amman, conduct basic language interpretation techniques training for select tour guides to serve the meetings and events (MICE) sector, improve the professional standards and image of tour guides, and support a tourism awareness campaign to attract women to careers in tourism.

Jordan Tour Guides Association (JTGA) represents more than 1,200 qualified and licensed tour guides, speaking 32 languages and leading guests and tourists around Jordan's historical sites, informing them about Jordan's history and culture in order to maximize their tourism experiences. It is estimated that less than 25% of total number of licensed guides are currently employed, mainly due to the drop in tourism numbers in Jordan. However, marketing of professional tour guides online is also weak, and there is room to improve the professional standards of guides.

Jordan's tourism sector holds great potential for contributing to significant economic growth and creating jobs within all parts of the country. JTGA intends to prepare its members for Jordan's impending resurgence in tourism demand by upgrading and expanding their services as well as adapting to changing tourism patterns with more effective market place promotion. JTGA will grow its digital presence using the internet and social media which is an increasingly effective means for people to directly book and share feedback on their experiences. In addition, tour guides may offer their services as language interpreters for the growing market of the meetings, incentives, conferences, and events sector (MICE). This could be a lucrative and highly demanded skill set that complements tour guides existing language skills.

With USAID BEST project assistance, JTGA will provide professional assistance to guides and accomplish the following:

1. Improve the marketability and demand for Jordanian tour guides: Upgrading JTGA's website to offer tourists a direct booking platform with transparent pricing and an online payment system, and support guides by developing individual online profiles. Workshops will be conducted to train guides on digital and social media marketing to help them promote themselves and Jordan in a professional manner, and attract clients and bookings.

2. Develop a pilot Amman Guided Walking Trail (Al Balad Trail): Currently there is a limited number of walking trails in Amman. JTGA will develop two two-hour walking trails and maps for Amman in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. The walking trails will center on Amman Downtown, Jabal Amman, and Rainbow Street as well as their surrounding areas, and possible partnering with Jabal Amman Residents Association (JARA). JTGA will schedule these two walking trails to include visits to archaeological sites and cultural places in Amman. Maps will be printed and available online, 20 guides will be trained to conduct the tour.

3. Conduct specialized interpretation techniques training: Tour guides will be trained on the basics of interpretation techniques in order for JTGA to expand their activities to benefit a broad range of guides, and to generate and convert new business opportunities with new and existing clients. Interpretation skills are in high demand throughout the meetings and events (MICE) sector, and particularly for hotels and conference venues. Because the JTGA's membership is comprised of more than 1,200 individuals capable of speaking 32 languages, this basic technical training will enable them to complement their already existing multi-lingual skill sets and enhance their marketability for the growing MICE tourism segment.

4. Improve professional standards of tour guides: JTGA will prepare a code of ethics manual, print and upload it to the JTGA website.

5. Support a tourism awareness campaign via 'Tourism Awareness Ambassadors': BEST is also supporting JTGA to conduct a tourism awareness campaign to attract females to hospitality and education in cooperation with Jordan Applied University. JTGA is planning to conduct a training of trainers (ToT) program for 10 female tour guides to support conducting the tourism campaign jointly with Jordan Applied University.

Once implemented, the above activities will result in JTGA enhancing the reputation and profile of Jordan in the marketplace, creating jobs for tour guides, developing new tourism products and increasing women's employment in tourism sector. JTGA expects to create at least 100 jobs through these activities.