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Following ‘par excellence year’, Petra looks forward to increased investments in 2020

Rose-red city expects rise in number of hotel rooms, jobs — region authority

By Balqis Zeidan - Jan 18,2020 - Last updated at Jan 18,2020

2019 was ‘the tourist year par excellence’ for the Kingdom, according to Commissioner of Financial, Administrative and Investment Affairs at PDTRA Khalil Abu Hamour (Photo by Amjad Ghsoun)

AMMAN — The Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA) is working to enhance the city’s infrastructure and facilitate investment processes to attract investors and tourists, the authority said on Thursday.

One of the sectors most vital to investments and tourism in Petra, some 220 kilometres south of Amman, is the hospitality sector. During the coming three years, hotel investments in Petra are anticipated to create jobs for around 350 to 400 people each year, Commissioner of Financial, Administrative, and Investment Affairs at PDTRA Khalil Abu Hamour told The Jordan Times.

Today, hotels in Petra employ around 1,400 workers total, according to Abu Hamour.

The commissioner described Jordan’s 2019 as “the tourist year par excellence”, as 13 per cent of the Kingdom’s Gross Domestic Product was attributed to tourism.  

In particular, 2019 was a booming year for tourism in Petra, Abu Hamour said, adding that the rose-red city received around 1.15 million tourists in total, an increase of 38 per cent compared to 2018.

Petra also received 32 investment requests in 2019 to establish new hotels, hotel rooms and other accommodation facilities, he noted.

These new investments are predicted to add 500 hotel rooms a year over the coming three years to the current 2,600 hotel rooms in Petra, Abu Hamour said, adding that in 2022, the number of hotel rooms in Petra is expected to reach about 4,100 rooms.

PDTRA has also completed its investment map, with an estimated total cost of JD220-240 million for 26 investment opportunities, he said, adding that these opportunities are available on PDTRA’s website for interested local, Arab and foreigner investors. 

According to Abu Hamour, PDTRA anticipates that the projects will create around 1,500 to 1,800 jobs.

He added that the projects include a virtual reality centre, a conference venue, a golf course, an equestrian academy, a camel farm and a horse racing track.

Through expanding the attractions in Petra, the authority aims to boost tourist activity, diversify tourist attractions and extend tourists’ period of stay, Abu Hamour said.  

Among these new attractions is the Petra Museum, a modern museum funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency that showcases artefacts from different historical eras and antiquities from the Nabataean city of Petra, he said.

The museum, which costs around $7 million, opened in April 2019, according to the commissioner.

Another new attraction in the city is the Heritage Village, he said, adding that the project is in its final phase and will be opened for commercial activities and investments next month.

The village will also feature a plaza where people can “enjoy a peaceful setting, an amphitheatre that can hold around 1,000 to 1,500 people, and a large venue for various events and celebrations”, he said.

PDTRA is also establishing a commercial marketplace in Petra’s city centre, Abu Hamour said, adding that it will include around 48 stores in its modern shopping area.

The market will also feature a national library, restaurants, coffee shops, a spacious plaza and a parking lot that can hold around 150 to 170 vehicles to reduce traffic in the city centre, he added.

The authority is also planning to rehabilitate the street linking the visitors’ centre with the city centre, Abu Hamour said.

 “We are very optimistic about what is yet to come as our ambitions are limitless,” the commissioner added. 

He also highlighted the rose-red city’s investment incentives, which allow investors to benefit from tax and customs exemptions.

The authority established the Investment Single-Window in PDTRA’s building, which includes authorised representatives of the Social Security Corporation, the Jordan Customs Department and the Income and Sales Tax Department to efficiently provide the needed services to businessmen and workers, Abu Hamour said.

The single-window aims to reduce time and effort for business processes and encourage investments, the commissioner said, predicting that in 2020, the authority will receive at least 20 investment requests.

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