By Merza Noghai – Apr 07,2016

AMMAN — The first Jordan Dive Show kicked off on Thursday in Amman with the participation of more than 20 dive centres based in Aqaba, showcasing their services and scuba courses for beginner and advanced divers alike.

The exhibition, which continues through Saturday, aims at acquainting Jordanians and tourists with the beauties of Aqaba bay, said Abdullah Momani, head of the Aqaba Diving Association (ADA).

“The 27km long bay the Kingdom possesses of the Red Sea is home to more than 500 species of corals and over 600 of coloured fish,” Momani said, citing scientific studies carried out by the University of Jordan.

The ADA was established in March, 2010 to develop the diving sport in Jordan and protect the marine environment in Aqaba, 330km south of Amman, noted the president, adding the association participated in several international tourist events to promote Jordan as a world tourist destination.

At the event, supported by the USAID’s Local Enterprise Support project (LENS), he noted that diving in Aqaba started in the early 1970’s and has been developing ever since until it became an income-generating profession for many Aqaba families.

The three-day fair, the second ever dive show to be organised in the Middle East after Dubai, is being hosted at the Grand Hyatt Hotel/Zara Expo and is open to the general public of all ages with free entry.

Director of the Economic Development and Energy Office at USAID/Jordan Russ Bauer said the agency’s Global Enterprise Support project is designed to empower local communities to implement collaborative economic development initiatives.

USAID has worked with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and ADA to identify opportunities for adventure tourism, Bauer said, adding that scuba diving is one industry that plays an important role in generating local economic growth.

“Divers support jobs and salaries for dive companies, and employees at local hotels, restaurants, transportation operators and retail shops; and based on a LENS analysis, each JD1 spent on scuba diving activities, JD27 is generated for other businesses, which hire 1,000 people in Aqaba,” he highlighted.

Tourism Minister Nayef Al Fayez said the ministry is keen to enhance its partnership with the private sector and to cooperate in drawing the 2016-2020 national strategy for tourism, especially in light of decreasing contribution of tourism revenues to the GDP, which dropped by 13 per cent last year, compared to 2014.

Fayez also highlighted the diving industry which can provide foreign tourists “a unique experience in a unique place” all year round.
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