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Rose-red city receives millionth visitor

California newlyweds cross historic mark

By Sarah Al Arshani - Nov 21,2019 - Last updated at Nov 21,2019

Alison Carey, from California, displays her permanent pass to Petra after becoming the millionth visitor to the ancient city this year on Thursday (Petra photo)

PETRA — The rose-red city of Petra was lit up with festivities as hundreds of tourists and locals packed the historical site to celebrate the arrival of its millionth visitor of 2019.

The celebration was hosted by the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA) in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the Tourism Authority, a statement said. 

Visitors celebrated Alison Carey, from California in the United States who was the millionth visitor of 2019. This year saw the highest number of visitors to the site. 

Carey is visiting the Kingdom with her husband Andrew for their honeymoon. 

“It’s been a dream of mine since I was a child to come to Petra. When I met my husband he felt the same,” Carey said. 

Her husband agreed, adding that the experience was “a dream come true”.

The millionth visitor received gifts, including a certificate, a golden pass to Petra for life and a seven-day trip to Jordan for two. 

The couple was later dressed in traditional clothes.

Carey said she now knows what it feels like to be famous and thanked Jordanians for their hospitality. 

Chief Commissioner of the PDTRA Suleiman Farajat told The Jordan Times on Thursday that Petra, some 220 kilometres south of Amman, is a significant tourism site for the country.

“Tourism is a very important economic resource in a country where the economy is not really doing that well,” he said. “Tourism is bringing growth opportunities.”

Farajat said the authorities are focused on bolstering the infrastructure and ensuring that Petra continues to grow as a favourite destination for international travellers.

In a press release, Farajat said the authority received 33 investment requests to either expand existing or build new hotels in the area. 

The statement also said “the PDTRA has signed an agreement to rehabilitate the tourist street and establish an alternative street and a link to the arterial street”, in the near future to ease traffic. It has also established a number of projects, some of which in their final stages, to increase the competitiveness of Petra as a global tourist destination.

Visitors came from all across the world to see the ancient UNESCO heritage site. 

Ageth Wechgelaer from Holland told The Jordan Times that she first visited Petra and the Kingdom in 1997. She has visited the Kingdom annually as a tour leader since 2008. 

“I love Jordan as a country and Petra is so spectacular, still, after so many years,” she said. 

For George and Irena Sifilakis who are visiting from Greece, the Kingdom “is a country with a great history, very nice people and great food. It is also part of Hellenic history,” which is why they chose to visit, they told The Jordan Times.

The celebrations also include a concert featuring Jordanian music, food and an artist writing tourists names in nubitian. 

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