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Aqaba, Petra Look Forward to one Million Tourist Mark in 2019

 AMMAN — Aqaba is expected to celebrate 1 million tourists by the end of 2019, Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) said on Tuesday.

 The number of visitors to Aqaba stood at 700,000 in 2017, over 900,000 in 2018 and more than 1 million tourists are expected by the end of 2019, ASEZA’s Commissioner for Economic Affairs Sharhabeel Madi told The Jordan Times.

 The increase in the number of tourists creates job opportunities for Jordanians from all around the Kingdom, Madi said, adding that over 50 per cent of tourists visiting the “Jewel of the Red Sea” are foreigners, which enhances the city’s economic and trade activity as well.

 He also noted that the average stay for international tourists visiting Aqaba is three nights, which gives them time to enjoy its “fascinating sites”.

 Negotiations are being made with tour operators to designate the coastal city as the first destination for tourists visiting the Kingdom, Madi said, noting that Aqaba is accessible by land crossings, seaports and airlines, making it a “portal” to the rest of Jordan.

 Aqaba has become a “stand-alone destination” and has the capacity to welcome up to 1.25 million tourists a year, Madi said, noting that the city’s sites, accommodation and facilities can accommodate the rising number of tourists and provide them with “unique” services.

 The ASEZA commissioner added that the city, globally acknowledged as “a first-class tourist destination”, is part of Jordan’s “Golden Triangle”, alongside Wadi Rum and Petra.

 Besides its “astonishing attractions”, Aqaba’s local community, which is welcoming, accepting of other cultures and ready to mingle with tourists, make the city a distinctive place to visit, Madi said.

 In 2020, ASEZA aspires to establish new markets, airlines and accommodations in Aqaba. It also aims to expand the city’s participation in marketing and promotional activities around the globe, according to Madi.

 Also on Wednesday, Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA) Chief Commissioner Suleiman Farajat said that the rose-red city is preparing to celebrate welcoming its 1 millionth visitor this year for the first time in its history on Thursday.

 PDTRA will hold a ceremony to mark the occasion, Farajat added, noting that the increase in the number of visitors is a sign of cooperation between PDTRA and its partners, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra.

 The total number of visitors to the ancient city of Petra stood at 620,000 in 2017, 827,000 in 2018 and 875,000 up to the end of October 2019, Farajat recently told The Jordan Times.