Category: News @ Petra.

Petra ranked among 25 top travel destinations for 2011

By Khetam Malkawi

TripAdvisor.com described the rose-red city as having ‘fascinating places to explore’ (JT file photo)

AMMAN – Amidst a period of regional unrest, Petra has emerged as a top travel destination for 2011, according to a leading tourism website.

TripAdvisor.com has ranked the UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World as one of the 25 top destinations in its 2011 Travellers Choice Destination Awards.

In its selection of the rose-red city, the website lists “fascinating places to explore… including the breathtaking 2,000-year-old Treasury, the narrow Siq gorge (the main entrance to Petra), and the High Place of Sacrifice”.

The only other regional destination that cracked the top 25 was the Old City of Jerusalem.

Despite the “positive” distinction, more work remains to be done to reassure potential visitors that the Kingdom remains a safe place to spend their holiday, according to Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) Director General Nayef Fayez.

“We have tourists coming to Jordan, but the numbers are still low,” he told The Jordan Times over the phone yesterday.

Fayez noted that misleading news reports linking peaceful pro-reform demonstrations in the Kingdom with regional unrest have largely subsided.

“It is good to see that international news outlets are currently neutral in their reports about Jordan,” he said, adding that greater efforts are needed to promote the Kingdom as a safe tourism destination.

As part of a summer campaign targeting the Gulf market, Fayez said the JTB has started inviting journalists from the Gulf Arab to explore and write on the country’s tourism sites. The Kingdom’s tourism industry has witnessed a downturn so far this year, largely due to unrest in nearby Arab countries and misleading news reports published in some international news outlets calling into question the country’s political stability.

JTB figures registered a 0.5 per cent drop in the total number of arrivals to the Kingdom in March compared to the same period of last year.

Overnight tourists decreased by 6.8 per cent, while package tours witnessed a 20 per cent drop during the same period.

The number of visitors to Petra also dropped by 40 per cent in April compared to the same month last year, according to Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA) figures.

Some 61,584 tourists visited the Nabataean city last month, down from 102,636 in April last year, according to PDTRA Deputy Chief Commissioner Mohammad Abu Ghanam.

Tourism revenues at the site also declined by 32 per cent, from JD2.2 million in April 2010 to JD1.35 million last month.

Last year, Petra remained the Kingdom’s top tourist site, receiving the highest number of overall visitors (962,784), followed by Jerash (412,649) and the mosaic city of Madaba (399,057).

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Category: News @ Petra