In a timely response to the pandemic and its impact on travel and tourism, the Jordanian Action for the Development of Enterprises (JADE) joined forces with the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) to provide tangible support for Jordanian tour operators with the recent “Tourism for Impact Project.” This project focused on enabling Jordan’s tourism businesses to adapt their products for new realities and post-crisis market recovery.
JADE is a four-year project co-funded by the European Union working to support the development of an inclusive and innovative private-sector that leads to economic growth and development across Jordan. The tourism industry was selected by JADE because it is one of the key economic drivers generating income, employment, and foreign exchange in Jordan. The “Tourism Impact Project” was delivered by the ATTA and led by Milena Nikolova, PhD. as a Market Activation and Trends Expert and funded by JADE. Conducted over a six month period, from July 2020 to November 2020, the project goal focused on enhancing the technical capacity of seven selected tour operators to improve their competitiveness post-COVID-19 and supported their marketing efforts. It also built upon the outcomes of previous activities that ATTA ran in 2019 in partnership with JADE.
The project team worked with Adventure and Challenge Forest Camp, Amani Tours, Amin Kawar & Sons, Discover Jordan, Experience Jordan, Sinbad Group, United Travel Agency, individually on product assessment and development activities to help each company design its own approach and build a path forward. The activities included:
- Creating product assessment toolkits that helped analyze a selection of current offerings and identify the areas in which they needed to improve to strengthen safety performance and the quality of the experience
- Providing product analysis with specific solutions that need to be put in place to meet traveler expectations
- Product innovation tactics that incorporate the recommended changes to optimize the quality of the experience and ensure alignment with new safety protocols
- COVID-19 health and safety protocols, plus best practices throughout the operational processes of companies
- Access to self-paced OnlineEDU courses on Product Development and Experience Design as well as on Trade Marketing and Sales as a vehicle for capacity building and skill development
- Business-to-Business matchmaking activity to activate market linkages and new potential partnerships
The program took a market-driven approach and based the working process and the specific solutions on the market realities, which the ATTA monitors and analyzes on an ongoing basis. Based on industry developments such as the development and adoption of internationally recognized protocols, as well as the best practices in market reopening strategies, the ATTA team prepared a package of solutions and recommendations that were tailored for each company.
While the project was focused on a small group of companies, it also secured some stability for the entire community of local companies. Since best practices spread, the lessons learned as part of this project will have a positive spillover effect over time.
ATTA Project leader Milena Nikolova shared her perspective on why this project demonstrated best practice, “As we continue to be in crisis mode the only way forward is adaptation and proactive preparedness for the post-COVID-19 market. Even if we still do not know the full scale and scope of the impacts we need to stay active in adjusting to the trends that we know will be a fact. This is precisely what the JADE project made possible.”
As companies struggle with the complexities of the crisis, they need a structured and facilitated expert-driven process that helps them prepare for the new realities. This is why financial assistance that supports companies with liquidity and employee retainment is necessary but not sufficient. Financial assistance alone does not help with market preparedness–which was the aim of this project.
“As the situation under COVID-19 continues to evolve, there has never been a more pressing time for local businesses to make changes that will allow them to ride out the storm, especially in the hard-hit tourism industry which is of utmost importance to the Jordanian economy,” shared Hamzeh Shamaileh, Country Manager of Leaders International. “By aligning with ATTA, the JADE program was able to supply entrepreneurial minds with the guidance and expertise needed to lead them onto the correct path, primarily through redesigning touristic activities in a COVID-safe manner. This way, affected businesses can successfully begin their economic recovery while still complying with essential safety guidelines – which is part of a greater picture to revive an essential component to Jordan’s economy.”
Supporting businesses in the adventure travel industry now is more important than ever to ensure the effective and efficient recovery of the businesses as well as smooth adaptation and transition to new norms and expected measures to protect each traveler. The ATTA is working closely with both partners supporting projects and the adventure travel community to meet the current needs of the industry by expanding its portfolio of opportunities for strategy and development. It is also focused on creating more flexible options for the community to stay connected and to find useful recommendations and resources for their business.