(MENAFN- Jordan Times) AMMAN - Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) Chief Commissioner Nayef Al Fayez on Wednesday stressed the importance of Aqaba as a tourist, investment and commercial attraction.
During a press conference, Fayez also reviewed several indicators that ASEZA recorded in the first quarter of 2023, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
He also referred to His Majesty King Abdullah's interest in Aqaba and HRH Crown Prince Hussein's follow-up on its development, as well as their keen desire to complete Aqaba's development projects in accordance with stable strategies.
The chief commissioner said that Aqaba has been and remains a global tourist destination, an economic trade logistics portal and a vital hub for the Kingdom, as its only maritime outlet to the world.
He added that the authority is working to update the 2020-2025 strategy to put Aqaba on the world's tourism map and to make it a global centre for training, human capacity-building and heading towards creative industries and an environmentally-friendly green economy.
Fayez referred to the objectives of the updated strategy in increasing domestic and foreign investment in the zone, which can contribute to creating more than 5,000 new jobs, realise high growth rates in various economic indicators and increase ASEZA's contribution to the national GDP.
Fayez reviewed performance indicators in the tourism sector, noting that the number of visitors to the zone from various border crossings during the first quarter of 2023 reached 401,000, marking a growth of 42 per cent, while hotel room occupancy increased 45 per cent, and passenger movement through King Hussein International Airport was up 112 per cent.
He added that the number of cruise ship passengers increased 280 per cent, visitors to Wadi Rum increased 310 per cent, arrivals through the Wadi Araba crossing increased 308 per cent. Arrivals through the Durra border crossing were up 872 per cent in the January-March period of the year.
The chief commissioner noted that the number of vessels coming to the port of Aqaba in the first three months of 2023 grew by 14 per cent, while the number of containers increased by 15 per cent and the rate of cargo handling grew 29 per cent.
As for investment and enhancing the business environment, Fayez explained that 71 companies were registered with ASEZA during the first quarter of this year, including 36 in the commercial sector, 32 in the services sector and three in the industrial sector.
He noted that the authority has automated 105 of its services that cover various sectors, expecting to increase the number of e-services to 160 by the end of this year.