Government mulling measures to mitigate impact of coronavirus crisis on tourism sector

The government is working in coordination with the Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) and other bodies on measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism sector, an official said on Monday.
Tourism Ministry Secretary General Imad Hijazin said that the ministry has taken all stakeholders in consideration, including self-employed individuals, such as tour guides.
Last week, the CBJ launched a JD500-million soft financing programme for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with the Jordan Loan Guarantee Corporation acting as guarantor on the loans.
The ministry is holding daily webinars with all concerned institutions to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the sector, which is a main contributor to Jordan's GDP, Hijazin added.
"We are waiting for offers from several commercial banks to provide soft loans to tourism stakeholders with the best features", Jordan Tourism Board Director General Abdul Razzaq Arabiyat told The Jordan Times.
The interest rate on the concessional loans from commercial banks will be two per cent, according to Arabiyat.
Other details of the loans, such as grace periods and monthly instalments, will be announced after choosing an offer before the end of this week, Arabiyat said.
There are many individuals covered by social security who will be included in another programme by the Social Security Corporation to finance them while being jobless, he added.
Raed Abulhaq, Jordan Tourist Guides President, said that tour guides are daily wagers, who do not work for companies and are not covered with social or health security.
"The spread of the coronavirus has coincided with the start of the high season, which means that we are already dealing with a low season since January", Abdelhaq said.
"Under the current circumstances, some tourist guides had to seek financial aid from colleagues or relatives to be able to secure food and very basic needs", he added.
Abdulhaq voiced the tourists guides appreciation to the Tourism Ministry and JTB for including them in the plan to protect the sector.
Last year, tourism income reached JD4.1 billion, according to CBJ figures.
Jordan Times
6 April 2020