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Ecotourism comes to Petra – inauguration of the first three camps

By Ziyad Twaissi
Participants at the opening day of the ecotourism network

Yesterday, in Petra – the rose red city – the kingdom’s ecotourism project was launched by the inauguration of the first phase with the establishment of three camps in Petra Region – the first of a total of 22 eco camps originally proposed for this project.

The event was sponsored by Eng. Muhammad Abu al-Ghanam, the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners at Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority, in the presence of the former Environment Minister Hazem Malhas, dignitaries and representatives of the local community in Petra, who all visited one of the projects’ trails at Muniefeh in Wadi Musa.

Eng. Abu al-Ghanam stressed the fact that this quality tourism project will be a valuable addition to what is already available to tourists in Petra, and will enhance the status of the famous city as well as enriching the experience of visitors. He also emphasized the amount of support being given by the PDTRA for this new tourism product which will encourage tourists to stay for longer periods of time and introduce them to the wonders of the natural environment.

The Chairman of the Coalition of the Petra Region Cooperative Societies, former MP Sami al-Hasanat, presented an overview of the project and explained how the camps have been set up, based on a format that is in keeping with the local environment, which preserves the natural surroundings and respects the biodiversity of the area.

The camps are connected in three areas: Shammakh at Shawbak, Umm al-Amad at Finan and Dana nature reserve. Part of the connection process will include the creation of a new mobile camp in Shammakh, creating an ecosystem network, the first of its kind, ending up with 22 camps altogether.

The project will serve as an integrated network for ecotourism in Jordan, including several trails to inform tourists about the geography and natural features of Jordan.

The project is based on a high-end luxury ecotourism network, introducing a new diversified tourism product at regional level. It presents a new face of Jordan, based on the principles of ecotourism, which conserves nature and also facilitates sustainable tourism and development of local communities.

Because the project is based on ecotourism, impact on the environment will be minimal, and as well as developing cultural and environmental awareness and respect for nature, there will be more positive experiences for both guests and hosts. There will also be direct benefits in terms of conservation and empowerment for local communities. According to al-Hasanat, the project anticipates providing 22 jobs in every camp. In addition, there will be training for local societies in the region, starting with Amaiin village at Baidha and Rajif, which are producing locally handmade souvenirs. The project will enhance in particular employment opportunities for women.

A retail centre will be established in cooperation with the PDTRA, so that local cooperatives can market their products under the trade mark “Made in Petra”.

8 local guides have already trained, in coordination with Al-Hussein bin Talal University, to become BI’A specialist guides. Al-Hasanat acknowledged the role played in this by the Ministry of Planning, al-Hima foundation, PDTRA and all the other organizations that have contributed to the fruition of the project, implemented by the Coalition of Petra Region Cooperative Societies.

Launch of the project included a tour to Muniefeh overlooking Petra, the rose red mountains and the area around Wadi Araba, where participants could see for themselves the layout of the trails and the location of the camp.

Translated by Sami al-Hasanat into English from the original article in Arabic:

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