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Jordan: In Petra, tourists reconnect with the remains of Antiquity

2023-01-15T09:45:22.494Z


After surviving torrential rains and the pandemic, the ancient capital of the Nabataeans is experiencing record crowds.


Millennial, but still as popular.

Surrounded by his camels in Petra, the spectacular archaeological wonder of Jordan, nestled at the bottom of a canyon in the desert, Hussein Bdoul is all smiles: the tourists are well and truly back.

After years in which the Covid pandemic turned the fabled

'pink city'

into a ghost town, this father-of-seven is back to work, offering visitors rides on his decorated animals.

"Tourism has resumed and the number (of tourists) is even greater,"

says Bdoul, 35, dressed in a Bedouin costume and a red keffiyeh covering his long black hair.

"During the coronavirus pandemic, we haven't seen anyone in Petra,"

he adds.

A disaster for the city where

“90% of the inhabitants work in tourism”

, he says.

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Jordanian tourism authorities confirm the resumption of activities in this famous ancient city, which attracted 900,000 visitors last year, a number close to the previous record of one million set in 2019. In total, Jordan recorded 4.6 million visitors in 2022, nearly four times the 2020 level, earning the country $5.3 billion.

The capital of pink cliffs

Located between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, Petra, where the influences of ancient Eastern traditions and Hellenistic architecture mingle, is famous for its superb temples carved into pink cliffs.

The site, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in an online poll in 2007.

Read alsoJordan: how to prepare for your visit to Petra

Dating back to around 300 BC.

JC, the city was the capital of the Nabataean kingdom.

The site of Petra is rich in tombs and temples carved into the pink sandstone cliffs which have earned it its nickname of

"pink city"

.

This ancient city remained unknown in the West until a Swiss explorer discovered it in 1812.

"This place and the colors are incredible"

, marvels a French student, Alia, 16, taking a break from her studies. discoveries to visit a souvenir stand with her mother.

About 1,700 people make a living from tourism in Petra as tourist guides, souvenir sellers or by showing tourists around the site on donkeys, horses, camels or even electric wheelchairs.

“We breathed a sigh of relief when we saw the tourists returning

,” says a young drink vendor, Muhammad Samahin, sitting on woven mats inside the Moon Cave, near the famous Treasury site.

The tourism challenge

For Suleiman Farajat, head of the Petra Regional Development and Tourism Authority, the return of tourism after the pandemic has exceeded all expectations.

At the height of the pandemic,

"there were days when there were no tourists"

in Petra, located 230 km south of the Jordanian capital, Amman.

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The revival of tourism was supported by official promotional campaigns to attract new foreign markets but also with offers of low-cost plane tickets and the provision of new hotel rooms, explains Suleiman Farajat.

Petra, he said, now has 4,000 hotel rooms and permits have been issued for the construction of three new five-star hotels, so soon the capacity will almost double since 2019. "

If it continues like this, we could reach , in three to four years, the threshold of two million tourists to Petra

” each year, launches this Jordanian official.

Source: lefigaro

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