New Petra projects aim at diversifying product, extending tourists stay

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(Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — As tourism attempts to recover from the two-year freeze imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, several projects are being undertaken to improve infrastructure and services in Petra, Jordan’s signature tourist attraction.اضافة اعلان

This year, the Nabataean city will see the completion and launch of several projects and services, including the heritage village project in the Beidha region, the tourist street project, and the Beidha visitor center, Chief Commissioner of the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority Sulaiman Farajat told Jordan News on Sunday.

The tourist street, which is the central road next to Petra’s visitor center, has been totally rebuilt with a new infrastructure that takes into consideration the safety and accessibility of all, at a total cost of JD3 million, Farajat said.

Furthermore, Beidha, an ancient suburb of Petra, will soon have its own visitor center, in addition to the heritage village which will be inaugurated in the last quarter of the year.

According to the chief commissioner, the village will have a restaurant that can host 3,000 people, 80 shops for souvenirs and other products, and a show that reenacts Nabataean life. The site will be open from 8am until midnight with transportation included in Petra’s entry ticket.

Farajat said that the holistic plan will see the restriction of all modes of transport in Petra, and introduce more electric vehicles to replace the use of traditional means at the site.

As for new services and activities, a zipline facility will be established with the “highest safety standards” and a tethered balloon at Al-Weira area will offer scenic views of Petra with the possibility of a dinner service, according to Farajat.

He noted that Petra offers incentives for investors in the field of tourism and light industries, which has contributed to an increase in the demand for additional hotel rooms.

Farajat said that Petra currently has about 2,600 hotel rooms and 900 rooms in 10 new hotels, some of which are under construction, and others have obtained official approvals to start construction. These hotels will provide at least 500 new job opportunities in the region upon completion.

Tariq Tweissi, head of Petra Hotels Association, said that the occupancy rate in Petra’s hotels has increased in the past three months to reach 65 percent, adding that “it was no more than 10 percent before that.”

Tweissi stressed that the most important challenge in Petra is the seasonality of tourism, as the occupancy rate sometimes reaches zero. Another challenge is the shortage of water which forces hotel owners to buy water at expensive prices. The associated has dug artesian wells to supply the hotels in an effort to lower water prices. 

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