Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Jordan banning Israeli tourists from bringing in food

From YNet:
Jordanian authorities have issued an unusual order banning the entry of food through its western border crossings, apparently in an attempt to get Israeli tourists to spend more money during their stay in the kingdom.

According to a new warning published on the Israeli Foreign Ministry website, "For security and safety reasons, the entry of packed cooked food into Jordan through the border crossings has been banned."

What does security have to do with cooked food, you ask? Well, a short inquiry reveals that the Jordanians are not really concerned that Israelis are hiding weapons in their pots and pans.

Officially, Jordan explains that it won't allow the entry of food which has not undergone a veterinary health check and has not received a phytosanitary approval. The Foreign Ministry, for some reason, turned this instruction into a security warning.

But the real reason, apart from the sanitary excuse, is that Jordanians have had enough of seeing Israeli tourists avoiding local restaurants and failing to spend any money during their short visits to Petra.

The neighboring kingdom thinks it's unfair that Israelis tour the country, use tourist infrastructures, enjoy Jordanian treasures but infuse no money into the local economy.

According to a Jordanian source, Israeli tourists arriving for one-day visits usually bring along bottles of water, sandwiches and cooked dishes. Some even enter restaurants with the homemade food.

In order to deal with the situation, the kingdom is also planning to raise the entrance fee to the popular Red Rock site in Petra. As of March, the tariff will climb from 50 Jordanian dinars (about $70) to 80 dinars ($113). This is the second price hike in the past year – up from only 20 dinars ($28).

Some 100,000 Israelis visit Jordan every year, many of them for one-day trips which allow them to bring along homemade food and avoid spending money on a hotel.

This isn't the first time Jordanians come up with creative ways to deal with the Israeli "stinginess". In the past, they enacted a law forcing a group of more than six tourists to hire a local guide and increased the border-crossing fee.
I'm not sure if this was intentional, but combined with Jordan's previous ban on tefillin and yarmulkas, and given that there are no kosher restaurants in Jordan, this means that religious Jews can no longer visit Jordan on even short trips unless they don't eat anything beyond potato chips.