- by Haneen Nofal
- in Latest News
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AMMAN — Petra is expected to celebrate 1 million visitors this year to its captivating attractions in early December, Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA) said on Wednesday.
The total number of visitors to the ancient city stood at 620,000 in 2017, 827,000 in 2018, and 875,000 up to the end of October 2019, PDTRA’s Chief Commissioner Suleiman Farajat told The Jordan Times.
Discussing how tourism in Petra has contributed to revenues in the Kingdom, the chief commissioner estimated that 90 per cent of visitors are foreigners, while 10 per cent are Jordanians and Arabs.
Farajat said that the average stay of international tourists visiting Jordan is about seven days, with an average of 1.2 days spent in Petra enjoying its “wondrous sites”.
The recent spike in tourism “places pressure” on the site, facilities and accommodation, the commissioner said.
For around 30 years, Petra had around 2,500 rooms for accommodation, but in the last two years, the number has increased by around 1,200 new rooms to meet the needs of the large number of tourists, he said.
"Petra, as a world heritage site, should go through constant reengineering and enhancements, and have new tourist circulations designed," the chief commissioner said.
With the aim of enhancing domestic tourism, PDTRA developed and landscaped public spaces for walking in Al Dara area of Wadi Musa, with an environmentally friendly approach to preserve the area’s nature and heritage, he added.
Farajat said that the new Wadi Musa centre, along with the new pedestrian walkways have been attracting more international tourists, especially at night.
The chief commissioner said that Petra’s prospects for 2020 are “promising”, as next year, the rose-red city will witness many events and festivities. It will also see the establishment of three four-star hotels and five three-star hotels.
Next year will also mark the reopening of the Petra Crowne Plaza, as renovations are expected to be completed by the end of 2020, he added.
He also said that a cultural village will be opened, hosting cultural performances and showcasing Jordanian handicrafts reflecting the Kingdom’s heritage, culture and legacy.
"The authority is working on a strategic plan for the next couple of years aiming at increasing Petra’s market share, enhancing Jordan as an international tourist destination and sustaining Petra as a world heritage site,” Farajat said.
Increasing locals’ engagement and participation in tourism, the plan also seeks to create job opportunities, the chief commissioner added.
The authority works side by side with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the Jordan Tourism Board, and Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority to increase the Kingdom’s competitiveness as an international destination, he said.