Tourism is a key driver of Jordan’s economy, accounting for 14 percent of gross domestic product and serving as Jordan’s largest private sector employer. Despite this, Jordan’s tourism potential is not being fully realized. The five-year USAID Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism (BEST) project seeks to tap into this potential by enabling Jordan's transformation into a globally competitive tourism destination.
The project partners with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and builds on successes of previous USAID/Jordan tourism development projects: Jordan Tourism Development Project I (2005-2008), Jordan Tourism Development Project II (2008-2013), and Economic Growth through Sustainable Tourism Project (2013-2015).
Jordan BEST works with government, nongovernment, and private sector tourism stakeholders to strengthen the country's tourism facilities and services. There is also an emphasis on improving management and promotion of tourism sites. The project also seeks to address a shortage of women and youth in the tourism sector workforce, where demand for skilled workers is high. Such activities build on earlier successes of improving gender equity: The previous iteration of the project established the first tourism program high school for girls in the coastal city of Aqaba.
In addition to a focus on workforce development, Jordan BEST puts in place immediate and longer-term policy reforms to promote tourism investment and improve the visitor experience. Jordan's cultural and natural attractions lie at the core of its tourism appeal, and efforts will be made to improve services at these sites, as well as at museums. Working with communities will also enhance existing tourism products and create new ones, such as trails and local activities.