Seventy-three tour guides join Petra list

(Photo: Pixabay)
AMMAN — Seventy-three new tour guides have joined the list of tour guides who work in the Petra visitor center under the supervision of the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA). The new guides follow the approximately 150 guides already registered.اضافة اعلان

In an interview with Jordan News, Suleiman Farajat, the chief commissioner of the PDTRA, explained that in 2012, the PDTRA unified all of its services under a single ticket for guests, simultaneously raising the price of the ticket. At that time, they implemented a different service agreement for its tour guides, who receive a monthly cut of that month’s ticket sales. While tour guides can work anywhere in the country, to work in the visitors’ center at Petra, they need to apply and be accepted by the PDTRA through this service agreement.

“In 2019, because tourism increased, there was a demand for tour guides,” the commissioner said. In that year, Petra recorded record-high rates of visitors, with over a million guests visiting the archaeological site. “Therefore many Jordanians in general, including some locals from Wadi Musa, took the guiding course and they wanted to be included in this agreement.” Farajat added that usually, tour guides need to have a bachelor’s degree, take specific courses, and pass exams to get their licenses.

But then that high demand for tour guides dropped precipitously when the pandemic began and Jordan closed its airport. Due to COVID-19, the PDTRA decided to delay the acceptance of any new applicants.

Now, that has changed, with the 73 new additions to the roster.

“When you have a new tour guide, the older generation sees them as competition,” Farajat said, recalling his own experiences as a tour guide 30 years ago. “So we need to manage things in a peaceful way.”

Farajat pointed out that the economic situation for Jordan’s tour guides has been challenging. “It’s very tough for them,” he said. “Many of them have very bad situations. But there are signals that tourism is coming back.”

With a vaccination campaign coursing across the country and consistently low rates of COVID-19, there is hope that the Kingdom can revive its ailing tourism industry - for the benefit of visitors and tour guides alike.

Tour guides were among the segments deeply affected by COVID, as tourism came to a complete stop tour guides found it hard to make ends meet.

Daoud Hattar, a tour guide, told Jordan News that “our conditions as tour guides are really bad, worse than you would imagine them to be.”

Hattar explained that “our work relies on foreign tourists, but now, because of the pandemic and difficult travel conditions, we are suffering from lack of tourists therefore lack of money.”

“We can say that the situation is getting better now, but not significantly - what we have been going through was really hard and we cannot compensate our losses easily and quickly.”

Despite the sector picking up, Hattar stresses that it is nowhere near pre covid.

“Last year, and despite the pandemic, we used to rely on Jordanian tourists within “Ordunna Janna” a program which is supported by the Ministry of Tourism “, Hattar said and added that “unfortunately, the program this year is not good as it was last year; the ministry cancelled some important trips within the program that had a huge turnout last year.”

“We used to receive between 70 - 80 bus per day last year, this year we might receive just 35 buses per week”, he said.

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