Petra vaccination campaign sets sights on ‘safe summer’

COVID-19 Vaccination (Photo: freepik)
AMMAN — The Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA) announced on Sunday the launch of a COVID-19 vaccination campaign for all citizens and workers in the Petra region in a bid to return to a “safe summer”.اضافة اعلان

The campaign, which is conducted in cooperation with the National Center for Security and Crisis Management, is set to begin on Wednesday, May 4, and Thursday, May 5 at approved centers. The vaccinations will continue until all sectors in the Petra region can reopen for a “safe summer”, according to a statement made by the PDTRA.

The Deputy Commissioner of Financial and Administrative Affairs at PDTRA, Khalil Abu-Hmour, told Jordan News in an interview over the phone that the campaign targets all 38,000 Jordanians living in Petra. “Everyone who registers on the website will get a chance to get the vaccine,” Abu-Hmour said.

The PDTRA has asked all sectors in Petra, which includes hotels and accommodations, tourism agencies, tour guides, bazars and antiques, local communities, and banks to register on the online platform

The campaign was initiated in hopes of reopening Petra, which was severely hit by lockdowns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Life in Petra now has been fully disrupted — one of the most highly affected cities and communities in Jordan,” Abu Hmour said. 

Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, drew over a million tourists as recently as 2019. The treasured archaeological site makes up part of Jordan’s so-called “Golden Triangle” of tourist sites. 

In a typical year, the ancient city is an important source of income for Jordan. The closure of all of Jordan’s borders in March 2020 and the subsequent curfews, lockdowns, and social distancing restrictions have devastated the incomes of those who rely on Petra, such as tour guides, camp operators, restaurant owners, camel handlers, artisans, and other members of the tourism industry. In 2019, tourism generally – in and outside Petra – accounted for JD4.1 billion. 

The vaccination campaign will be focused on Wednesday and Thursday with the possibility of a two-day extension, according to Abu-Hmour. “Our focus within the two days is on the borders of the region and popular and economic events,” Abu Hmour said.

Abu Hmour added that most people in Petra are encouraged to take the vaccine to reignite tourism in the region. Around 85-90 percent of Petra’s residents depend directly on tourism as a source of income. The disruption in tourism has caused a disruption in economic and social development in the region.

“Life in Petra will not return until economic sectors are reopened and tourism returns, in addition to the immunization process and adherence (to safety measures),” Abu-Hmour explained.

According to Abu-Hmour, around 900 people from Petra had registered on the online platform to take the COVID-19 vaccine within the first two hours of the campaign’s announcement on Sunday.

“The government’s direction is a safe summer post-June. Therefore, for us to reach this aim, we need to be immunized against the virus,” Abu-Hmour said.

The decision comes as several other sectors across the country have announced their own vaccination campaigns, including the Ministry of Education and Aqaba, which is also an important site for tourist activity in Jordan. Additionally, the first commercial flight for tourists since the pandemic, arrived in Aqaba on Saturday, foreshadowing the recovery of Jordan’s tourist sector.

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