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Jordan Hotel Occupancy Rates Rise as People Flee Lebanon

By Dalya Dajani, Jordan TimesMcClatchy-Tribune Business News

July 18, 2006 - -AMMAN -- The escalating conflict in Lebanon has led to mixed results for Jordan's tourism industry, with hotels reporting brisk business but some tour groups cancelling their trips fearing increasing instability in the region.

Occupancy rates in several of the capital's hotels have peaked over recent days as a result of Israel's military offensive in Lebanon.

The five-star Marriott Hotel's reservations sales agent Enas Ghrayeb, said the influx had brought occupancy to 100 per cent.

"The influx raised the prior 85-90 per cent occupancy rate to full occupancy beginning on Friday and Saturday," said Ghrayeb.

"Most of these guests were either supposed to go to Lebanon for their holidays or had fled the situation there," she added.

According to the reservations employee, many of those booked at the hotel are Lebanese nationals, including foreign staff from UN organisations and the World Bank who fled the country as the conflict quickly escalated.

Ghrayeb, however, said there had also been some cancellations from Europe and the United States.

Over at Arwad Hotel, near the Ministry of Interior Circle, receptionist Rami Rawashdeh also noted a slight pickup in bookings at the four-star hotel.

"The hotel is usually active during this time of the year, but we did register a small increase from Gulf tourists who fled the situation in Lebanon," said Rawashdeh.

The hotel employee said so far they had not had any cancellations.

The four-star Howard Johnson Hotel also saw an influx of Lebanese nationals from Saturday, increasing the occupancy rate by some 10 per cent.

Rakan Qundah from the hotel's reservations department told The Jordan Times that families and individuals had made bookings ranging between a week and ten days.

The military offensive in Lebanon, however, did not have much of an impact on the occupancy of the four-star Aqaba Gulf Hotel, which mainly relies on foreign visitors on packaged tours.

"We haven't received bookings from people shifting their holiday plans from Lebanon, but business is running as usual with an average of 70 per cent occupancy rate this week," said the hotel's reservations agent Wisam Hijazi.

The hotel employee, however, did note that there had been some cancellations by foreigners fearing growing instability in the region.

During the interview, Hijazi received a fax from one travel agent informing the hotel of a cancellation for a tour group of 40 people from Europe who were slated to arrive in September "due to the unsafe situation in the region."

The hotel employee said a group of 30 Japanese tourists who were set to arrive on the 27th of this month had also cancelled their trip.

"Such cancellations from distant locations are expected but we expect them to be minimal," said Hijazi.

"We believe some may re-book their holidays based on how the situation in Lebanon develops," he added.

Over at the Radisson SAS Hotel in Amman, occupancy remained as normal with no bookings made resulting from the war in Lebanon.

The hotel's general manager, Firas Mnemneh, said the hotel maintained its regular flow of guests of mostly corporate clientel.

As for cancellations, the GM noted they stood at 2 per cent, considering them to be far less than expected.

"I was expecting higher cancellations but fortunately they were very minimal and I expect them to remain so," said Mnemneh.

At the Dead Sea resorts, hotel activity remained normal.

A reservations employee at the 5-star Movenpick Hotel told The Jordan Times the hotel had not received any cancellations or new bookings as a result of the situation in Lebanon.

Head of the Jordanian Hotel Association Michel Nazzal said this week that hotel occupancy at five-star hotels stood at 90 per cent as a result of the situation in Lebanon.

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To see more of the Jordan Times or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.jordantimes.com/.

Copyright (c) 2006, Jordan Times

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