Jordan in the New York Times Travel Show – Our Newest Team Member’s First Travel Show Experience

Feb 2, 2017 10:39:20 AM

Ali Al Shabnan



Being the newest member of the JTBNA family, I was bound to have a ‘first travel event’. That event just so happened to be the mother of them all, the New York Times Travel Show. During the show, my interactions with the various types of people present – consumers, travel agents, journalists/bloggers – took me by surprise in ways I can never prepare for.

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Nostalgia and Longing

A frequent type of visitors to our Jordan booth were those who have been to Jordan. Many of them stopped by – not to gain information or ask questions about the destination – but simply to convey their love for the country and the people. They came and offered their gratitude and their longing to go back to a place they felt right at home. Expressions of love for the Jordanians, their hospitality and treatment of guests to their country, their food, and of course the sites in their country. They would point to the Wadi Rum banner I had at the booth with a most-nostalgic expression on their face and tell me about the magical nights they spent in Wadi Rum under a million shooting stars, or the goosebumps that took over their bodies upon their first sight of the Treasury at Petra. One common feeling they all shared was their longing to go back.

Curiosity and Wonder

The other frequent type of visitors were those who have never been, and a significant chunk of those are ones who have never heard of Jordan. Those who know the destination but have never been almost always express their heavy desire to visit Petra, float weightlessly on the Dead Sea, spend a night in Wadi Rum under the stars, to mention a few. Many could not believe how much there is to do in Jordan, given its relatively small size compared to most countries. One thing I liked to tell them was that Jordan is the biggest small country in the world, and that is because of the diversity in terrain, landscape, people, food, and sites. Not one of those visitors could hardly believe the amount of experiences they could have, or about the 15,000+ registered archaeological sites across the country.

Those who have never been were passers-by who glanced at our Petra and Wadi Rum banners and pressed their foot brakes to come express their curiosity and almost-guilt at not knowing what or where Jordan is. Even before informing them about what Jordan has to offer, they had already deemed it a bucket-list item even just by the sight of the banners. Children gaped with the biggest “wow” upon the sight of the Treasury in their faces, nagging their parents about the urgent need to visit one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

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“Is it Safe?”

The golden question that many asked, simply because of the broad geographic location of Jordan, was if it was safe for them to travel to Jordan. Many times, before I even have a chance to address their concern, someone else who’s been to Jordan from the crowd would take over on my behalf and personally tell them how safe they felt when they were in Jordan. They pointed out to many things to address the safety misconception. A lot of them said they had felt safer walking the streets of Amman than they did in their everyday life in New York or their respective cities in the U.S. They expressed their gratitude for the regular Jordanian, first and foremost, who welcomed and treated them with the most hospitable gestures everywhere they walked across the country. They then pointed out the fact the Jordan has a Tourism Police task force who are dedicated to ensuring the experience of their guests are smooth and without trouble. To hear more about what others had to say about their experience in Jordan, take a look at hundreds of thousands of testimonials from guests who have previously visited here

 Having a vast and random pool of people chime in on Jordan’s wonders and safety question made it feel like everyone who’s been to Jordan is an ambassador and an advocate for the country and the people, they did it with such passion that can only be conjured up by having a strong, unbreakable connection with Jordan and Jordanians.

Ali Al Shabnan

Written by Ali Al Shabnan

Ali is a marketing and communications assistant at JTBNA. His passions are world travel, learning about cultures, and soccer. Born in Saudi Arabia, Ali resides in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area