It was expected that rising costs of fuel would contribute to increasing costs of travel this year. Typically, I like to take my family to locations in Jordan, such as Petra and Aqaba, but this year we decided to go to Egypt. This decision has revealed to me some interesting economic choices related to vacationing. Let me explain.
Suppose that a family of four (mother, father and two kids) decide to spend four days and three nights at the Dead Sea. Reasonable accommodation requires renting two double rooms for the duration. It turns out that the five star hotels in the area charge a little over 100 dinars per room for casual tourists not dealing with a travel agent. So, the accommodations will cost 600 dinars. Add to that the cost of eating (lunch and dinner), which is about 25 dinars per person per day, which comes to 400 dinars over the four days. There are no alternatives but to eat in the hotel. So, this modest affair will cost about 1000 dinars, not including transportation. Transportation costs are low because of the proximity.
Economics of going to Aqaba are slightly different, since there are more options for food and accommodation. One can stay at a five star hotel at the beach, which would be at least 120 dinars a night, or one can rent a furnished apartment for as little as 25 dinars a night. The problem with the low cost option is the lack of access to the beach. Hotel beaches charge about seven or eight dinars per person (I forget). So, the family of four would have to shelve out 30 dinars a day to swim on the beach. Free public beaches are available to the south, but the services there are limited. Food costs are flexible as well. The said family of four would probably get away with spending less than 300 dinars. I wouldn’t guarantee everlasting gratitude by the wife for such a trip, however.
Now, options to going to Egypt are equally interesting. Newspaper adds have deals for five day trips, for example, including accommodation in five star hotels such as the Ramsis Hilton, for 289 dinars per person. This includes breakfast and sightseeing trips. So, the cost, except for food and souvenirs, would be about 1150 (plus 80 dinars in exit taxes). If one is on a tighter budget, the same deal is available for a four star hotel for 189 dinars per person. I really can’t fathom the economics of this, since the cost of a Royal Jordanian ticket to Cairo is about 220 dinars. Anyway, the four star deal will cost a little over 800 dinars, including the exit tax. Food would cost 20-30 dinars a day for the family, adding about 150 dinars to the total. So, Cairo, for five days, would cost about the same as four days in the Dead Sea.
For a beach trip to Sharm il Sheikh, a four day, three night deal can be done for 89 dinars per person (plus the 20 dinar exit tax). Upgrading to five star status with a beach would cost 129+20, totaling 600 dinars for the four member family. The three star hotel deal for such a family would cost about 440 dinars. I am not sure how much food costs in Sharm, but I would suppose that it is similar if not cheaper than Aqaba. My guess is that such a trip would achieve more in terms of familial satisfaction per dinar spent than the trip to Aqaba. Trips to Lebanon or Syria would also be competitive in terms of cost and enjoyment to Aqaba or the Sharm.
Anyway, it is sad that this situation is as it is. It seems to me that it is a shame that options for Jordanian travel in the country is both limited (by facilities, not wonderful settings) and costly.