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‘3,000 local tourists to visit Petra, watch sunset in Wadi Rum’

Dinner and a show await visitors at Valley of the Moon

By Ahmed Bani Mustafa - Sep 01,2016 - Last updated at Sep 01,2016

Wadi Rum, some 328km south of the capital, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Photo by Merza Noghai)

AMMAN — Around 3,000 domestic tourists will take a trip to Petra and Wadi Rum, in an initiative organised to mark World Tourism Day and the centenary of the Great Arab Revolt. 

The Lamet Al Urdun initiative aims to promote domestic tourism and support local communities, in line with the Tourism Ministry’s efforts to support campaigns to boost the sector, said organiser Khalid Aamar.  

After visiting the ancient city of Petra, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the tour group will head to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Wadi Rum, where they will watch a live concert.

The trip, on September 23, includes transport, lunch, dinner and tour guides. 

The tour is expected to give a boost to the local community and tourism sector workers, who are suffering from a prolonged slump sparked by regional upheaval since 2011. 

Some 60 tour guides and 60 tour buses will be hired for the day, as well as 500 jeeps, which are usually rented from locals in the desert of Wadi Rum, Aamar said. 

The day trip will also bring much-needed revenue to restaurants and desert camps, he told The Jordan Times. 

The group will meet at Amman’s Sports City at 6am, before heading off in convoys of 20 buses at half-hour intervals to Petra, 235km south of Amman. 

One tour guide has been allocated to each bus to lead a full tour of the rose-red city.

In Wadi Rum, some 328km south of the capital, the tourists will tour the desert valley in jeeps before watching the sunset.

At a desert camp, they will be served a traditional zarb meal, a bedouin barbeque cooked in a large underground pit, while watching live performances of Jordanian music. 

Aamer said the Tourism Ministry had approved the programme, noting that the government supports all initiative to revive the tourism sector and help those working in the industry survive the current lull. 

Rawan Shawabkah, who has booked a place on the tour, said that she had visited Petra before, but decided to join the trip for the chance to take a guided tour of the ancient city.  

“The trip will witness the biggest gathering of people watching the sunset and the largest number of 4×4 vehicles in the history of Wadi Rum, in addition to the concert by [Jordanian singer] Hani Mitwasi,” she told The Jordan Times. 

Most trips organised for local tourists do not provide tour guides, and Jordanian visitors often miss out on the history and essential information about the sites, she noted. 

Environmental activist Rana Naber said she had visited Wadi Rum, also known as the Valley of the Moon, regularly since the 1990s, and worked with international volunteers on environmental and ecological issues.  

 

“This UNESCO site must be better looked after in environmental terms, with responsible tourism and the provision of transport,” she said, adding that visitors to Wadi Rum could only reach the protected desert wilderness by private car or by booking an organised trip.

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