Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project

Wadi Rum investors introduced to new tourism incentives

9 Apr 2019

The Jordan Investment Commission (JIC), in partnership with USAID BEST held an awareness session for tourism investors in Wadi Rum on April 8, 2019 in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (MoTA), Housing Bank, Safwa Islamic Bank, and USAID Jordan Loan Guarantee Facility (JLGF) to inform local camp owners and investors about new investment incentives available to them. The government announced in March new set of incentives for tourist hotels, restaurants, recreational parks and convention centers that operate within Aqaba governorate but fall outside the Aqaba Special Economic Zone. A Cabinet decision in 2016 did not include these areas, including Wadi Rum.

With the goal of developing tourism, the new incentives exempt materials, machinery and spare parts from customs duties and other taxes, and include a reduced sales tax of 7% and an income tax freeze at 5 per cent for 10 years (unless the business already benefits from a bylaw that allows income tax cuts in development areas/zones). 

“In holding this session we are presenting new and relevant considerations for existing tourism businesses and prospective investors,” said Bilal al-Hamouri, Director of Investment Window for the Jordan Investment Commission “The incentives now available to citizens of the Aqaba Governorate, excluding the Aqaba Special Economic Zone, will benefit investors and entrepreneurs, afford new work opportunities for local communities and improve the economic conditions in the area.”  

During the awareness session, attendees received information regarding the new incentives, current performance of the Jordanian tourism sector, and financing and loan guarantee programs on offer by BEST-partnered financial institutions.  More than 50 investors attended and several expressed interest in accessing financing and the set of incentives.

“I wasn’t aware of the incentives before coming to the session today,” said Salam Al-Ziradi, manager of a desert camp in Wadi Rum. He added, “The session was useful in introducing us to avenues of financial support that we could use to develop our business further, which we would very much like to do. Not to mention topics like business planning, customs and duties on products we make use of that we did not have a firm understanding of prior to the session.”

Wadi Rum is one of the more notable tourist attractions in the Hashemite kingdom, being particularly varied with walking and hiking trails, desert adventures, canyoneering, and local community-based experiences. Between 2015 and 2018 the annual visitor total to the area has grown by four-fold, with nearly a quarter of a million visitors in 2018.