(MENAFN - Jordan Times) AMMAN — Direct flights that will be operated between Aqaba and Egypt and will contribute to increasing the number of visitors to Aqaba, an official said on Sunday.The spokesperson of the state-run Aqaba Development Corporation Khalil Farrayeh said direct flights will be operated between Aqaba, Cairo and Sharm El Sheikh as of June 3.'This will ease the pressure on the sea movement for Egyptian workers and give them another option to travel back home by air. This will also enable them to visit Egypt from time to time instead of waiting for a long time as these flights are affordable trips,' he told The Jordan Times over the phone on Sunday.
Sharhabeel Madi, commissioner for economic development and investment affairs at the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) said the step will contribute to boosting tourism if there is cooperation between the Jordanian and Egyptian private sectors.
'If some specific packages that target tourists are done then this will help attract more tourists,' he added.
Two flights a week will be operated, Farrayeh said, voicing hope that 2 million passengers will use Aqaba airport this year. 'The low-cost flights contributed to brining back life to Aqaba airport.'
Farrayeh stressed that these flights will push the number of tourists to Aqaba. 'Aqaba started to shine again.'
'Aqaba became again one of the touristic destinations in Jordan. There was a very low touristic moments towards the city but now the numbers are on the rise,' he added.
Farrayeh said the occupancy rate in Aqaba was 97 per cent last month, adding that thousands of tourists flocked to Aqaba during the first months of 2019.
Madi recalled that a total of 986,000 tourists visited Aqaba in 2018 compared with the 654,000 tourists visited Aqaba in 2017.
'We are expecting 2019 to be a unique year for Aqaba, thanks for the promotion of the tourism product, direct flights that Aqaba started to receive and the efforts exerted in tourism done by the ASEZA in cooperation with the Jordan Tourism Board,' he added.
In previous remarks, ASEZA Chief Commissioner Nasser Shraideh said the performance indicators for Aqaba as a destination indicate healthy growth in the rise of overnight visitors, which increased by 57 per cent in 2017, Shraideh said. 'The rate of passengers passing through King Hussein Airport also increased by 16 per cent, while 21 more ships docked in Aqaba in 2017.'
ASEZA plans to reach 1.5 million annual overnight visitors by 2025, according to Shraideh.
Shraideh added that the ASEZA also aims to draw 500,000 visitors to Wadi Rum, raise the average stay at the site to six nights, increase the number of passengers through the King Hussein Airport to 650,000 and build 12,000 new hotel rooms.