AMMAN — The general situation of the Kingdom’s tourism sector has “deteriorated significantly” since November with the emergence of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19, according to a sector representative.

“The Omicron variant has shaken the tourism industry in Jordan. It is an almost collapsed sector,” deputy head of Jordan Society of Tourism and Travel Agents (JSTA) Fadi Abu Arish told The Jordan Times on Thursday.

Arish noted that an “enormous” number of reservations have been cancelled as many European countries have closed their borders to curb the spread of Omicron.

He also pointed out that the government’s travel policies and regulations, such as conducting PCR tests for air travellers upon arrival, have negatively affected tourism activity in Jordan.

Arrivals to Jordan have to present a negative COVID-19 PCR result taken within 72 hours prior to their arrival to the Kingdom. Then, a second PCR test is required from air travelers upon their arrival.

“Requiring another PCR from air travellers upon arrival, is a major challenge to us,” he said.

“A week ago, we met with the tourism minister and other relevant stakeholders, to demand exemptions for our sector,” he noted.

Throughout last September and October, things had just begun to improve, but then, the situation has deteriorated since the beginning of November.

“The sector needs true governmental support,” he added.

Deputy Head of the Jordan Inbound Tour Operators Association (JITOA) Awni Kawar told The Jordan Times on Sunday that the first tourism season in Jordan begins in March and goes until May.

“If the epidemiological situation remains the same and the Kingdom remains a red zone for many countries from which most potential tourists come, the season would be destroyed,” he added.

“We all hope that things get better,” he said.