The nature of tourism is complex. It reaches across multiple sectors, effects millions of people (for better or for worse) and appears to be an unstoppable force in the modern world. While tourism is widely seen as a sector especially well suited to poverty reduction, the industry is rife with problems. It facilitates the destruction of natural resources, commodifies people and culture, perpetuates low-wage and seasonal jobs, stresses infrastructure and displaces local populations (McLaren 2003; Black and Crabtree, 2007, Tourism Concern, 2008). Regardless, the expanding nature of globalization and the undeniable vitality tourism revenue can bring to a nation’s economy leave most governments with no choice but to promote the sector. Jordan is no exception.

In answer to this quagmire, movements have arisen in order to create sustainability in the sector. There are many niches in reformative tourism, including ecotourism, sustainable tourism, propoor tourism, justice tourism and responsible tourism (to name a few). However, they all purport in some way to minimize environmental harm and/or provide direct benefit to the poor through tourism. Fair trade tourism is one of the newest of these niches.

Fair Trade Jordan is a Jordanian non profit initiative established in 2005, which proposes to establish a new “Fair Trade Tourism” certification scheme. The broad aims of this scheme are to:

• Mainstream the principles of Fair Trade and responsible tourism throughout the Jordanian tourism economy; and

• Support small-scale / community-based tourism enterprises to access markets and improve the quality and sustainability of their operations.

This report outlines the tourism environment in Jordan, highlighting the problems unique to the Kingdom, such as resource poverty, lack of investment in reform among stake holders, lack of credibility among existing sustainable tourism products and a constraining government. The challenges speak of the necessity of a fair trade tourism project. Through interviews with various stake holders, several main areas of reformative priority have been extracted: education and awareness about how to create sustainability, unity and cooperation in this multi-sector industry, market access for small and medium enterprises and advocacy for a more conducive business environment.

This report analyzes Fair Trade Tourism Jordan’s current state and provides a set of recommendations for establishing such a certification scheme, based on fieldwork conducted in Jordan during September 2007 and June 2008, interviews with various stake holders, extensive desktop research and ongoing stake holder engagement. It applauds Fair Trade Jordan’s current efforts thus far and merely emphases a number of Fair Trade Jordan’s future plans. It encourages Fair Trade Jordan to continue with much of its current work such as reducing entry barriers through a sliding-scale certification system and providing small and medium enterprises with access to loans and training. It recommends reducing reliance on voluntary participation from certain stake holders, as a lack of interest in the industry will only lead to a small support base willing to perform tasks, increasing Fair Trade Jordan’s staff in order to complete proposed activities, and advocating for more beneficial government legislation.

Building capacity for a fair trade tourism certification system is a slow process, but worth the investment. However, it is sometimes difficult to focus on long-term capacity-building when stake holders are living hand-to-mouth and demand immediate monetary return. Still, based on existing certifying organizations such as Fair Trade Tourism South Africa, the system can positively benefit the industry. Fair Trade Jordan now has to convince its stake holders of this.


International Business | International Trade Law | Work, Economy and Organizations