Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism (BEST)
As Jordan’s largest private sector employer, the tourism sector is an important driver of the national economy and accounts for 14 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. The potential of Jordan’s tourism sector, however, is not being fully realized. The USAID Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism (BEST) project taps into this potential to enable Jordan to become a globally competitive tourist destination. Working with governmental, nongovernmental, and private sector stakeholders in tourism development, the project is improving the country’s tourism workforce as well as its products, facilities, and services. Jordan BEST is also facilitating immediate and longer-term policy reforms to encourage investments in tourism and improve tourists’ experiences in Jordan.
The BEST project builds on previous USAID/Jordan tourism development projects: Jordan Tourism Development Project (JTD) I, which ran from 2005 to 2008; JTD II, which ran from 2008 to 2013; and most recently, the Economic Growth through Sustainable Tourism (EGST) project, which ran from 2013 to 2015. More than 375 jobs were created through JTD I and II in Madaba and Wadi Rum, two popular tourist destinations. The projects generated $2 million in private sector investment and reached 20,000 industry professionals with a safe food handling campaign.
In three years, EGST used marketing campaigns, which included welcoming 600 travel journalists from 25 countries, to promote Jordan to 10 million travelers around the world. The project also focused particularly on workforce development and training, supporting vocational training centers to help 8,500 students graduate and secure employment at hotels, museums, and other tourism sites. Seventy percent of the 8,500 students achieved this goal.
- Improve marketing for and management of tourism sites to change perceptions of Jordan and improve services at tourism sites and attractions
- Increase the low numbers of women and youth in the workforce of the tourism sector, a sector in which the demand for skilled workers is high
- Change Jordanians’ perceptions of tourism’s value and reputation, preventing stigmas from further limiting the workforce’s potential
- Work with communities to enhance existing tourism products and create new ones, such as trails and local cultural activities
- Create new financial loan products for firms in the tourism sector that are tailored to the sector’s needs