TRAVEL TRADE MENA: What differentiates Jordan as a regional religious destination?
DAN BENZAQUEN: Jordan is rich with religious sites, with the Baptism Site, Mount Nebo and Madaba as the most popular choices amongst tourists. However, what gives Jordan the competitive edge is that the country is also full of cultural, wellness and adventure tourism offerings. Tourists coming to Jordan for whatever purpose are given a vast choice to explore the other sights of the country.
More interesting to know is that looking deeper into the different types of tourism in Jordan will show that they are closely linked with each other, for instance, the close connection between religious tourism with cultural tourism, and cultural tourism with adventure tourism. Another example, a pilgrim may come to Jordan with the aim of tracing back religious history, which also appeals to an intellectual who is on a trip to know more about cultural heritage.
TRAVEL TRADE MENA: What are the main religious events that take place in Jordan? How many guests do you receive during these periods?
DAN BENZAQUEN: There is a year-round demand for religious tourism in Jordan, and the influx of tourists can be observed starting from the Holy Week or Month. Our Aqaba-based resorts, Mövenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay Aqaba and Mövenpick Resort & Residences Aqaba, welcome guests from Southeast Asia, the Far East and even the Americas for that purpose.
TRAVEL TRADE MENA: What facilities are available for religious tourists during these celebrations?
DAN BENZAQUEN: The combined room inventory of Mövenpick Tala Bay and Mövenpick Aqaba makes us one of the biggest in South Jordan with over 600 rooms to sell.
With the strategic locations of our other properties in the country, two in Petra and one in the Dead Sea, the Mövenpick brand offers unique charm for individual resorts, while offering consistency in service and food quality for tourists visiting several places.
TRAVEL TRADE MENA: What are the latest trends you have been witnessing concerning your religious tourism guests?
DAN BENZAQUEN: Religious tourists are usually families travelling together. While the main purpose of their trip is to visit key religious sites, they also include main destinations of Aqaba, Petra and the Dead Sea in their itinerary for side trips and leisure activities, giving more value to their travel experience. They come in groups through packages arranged by travel agents.
TRAVEL TRADE MENA: What actions are being undertaken to further develop Jordan’s religious tourism?
DAN BENZAQUEN: More hotels and resorts are under construction with new brands coming in the picture; transportation systems are being improved with more charters from different countries, with road conditions getting better and the ancillary tourism services continuously enhanced. Also, better quality of service standards and delivery are seen over the years.
TRAVEL TRADE MENA: How is Jordan’s tourism industry promoting the country's religious culture across the wider MENA region?
DAN BENZAQUEN: Promotion and marketing efforts are more visible, and the presence of Jordan in different trade shows is more evident. Also, better collaboration between players in tourism sectors brings added value in the tourism product of the country, which makes it more appealing to the international market.