Petra Development Pans Based on 'Tourist- Friendly Perspective'
Although business remains bleak for Petra’s hospitality sector, the dry tourism spell has not held back plans by local authorities to develop the area’s many attractions. Carrying on with development plans started last year, the Petra Region Authority (PRA) is looking at JD5 million worth of projects to enhance service provisions for both local residents and tourists. PRA head Shehadeh Abu Hdaib told The Jordan Times that various sites panoramic views near the area’s hotels would be developed, including work to beautify the entrance of Petra’s ancient city.
“We’re working on developing the area from a tourist-friendly perspective, improve service provisions and beautify the area to enhance visitor potential,” said Abu Hdaib.
“Some of these projects are already complete, such as a 100-dunum national park, and the relocation of automation/carpentry (tradesmen) and vegetable/fruit markets to a strategically more appropriate area,” he added.
According to the PRA official, moving the scattered shops to the bustling downtown area and locating them under one unit not only improves the area’s appearance, but also helps the economy.
The vendors and tradesmen will move to their new location in three month’s time, Abu Hdaib said.
With its remarkable stone-carved rose-red city and winding old roads, Petra was once a magnet for thousands of foreign tourists before the Intifada erupted in September 2000.
Since then, a series of events in the region have left the area mostly empty of foreign travelers. Several hotel owners are keeping their fingers crossed for a better tourist turnout this year.
To help the hotels overcome their crippling financial woes, the government turned to an alternative market and focused on encouraging Jordanians to visit the area.
During the course of its four months, Petra Charm, a subsidized room rate government initiative, the locality’s stagnating hospitality sector managed to land 40,000 nights’ stays by citizens.
Abu Hdaib hailed Petra Charm as a success, noting that an extension of the program, particularly during the summer, could help encourage more Jordanians to visit.
Plans are also on the drawing board to construct a JD3.5 million conference centre in Petra to provide a venue for meetings and workshops.
Other plans to further enhance Petra’s tourism potential include a proposal for the construction of a JD121,000 helipad, so visitors can take helicopter flights and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the area’s spectacular rugged mountains and valleys.
According to Abu Hdaib, the proposed helipad could also be used to transport patients to the Queen Rania Hospital, 1.5 kilometers away.
By Yousef Hasanat