Encouraging new tourism

By | Category: Travel destinations
Joradn Trail - first part

opening the first part of the Jordan Trail © Ali Barqawi

Any destination needs to come with new ideas from time-to-time to encourage tourism. Believe it or not, even countries with as many treasures as Jordan have to devise new and interesting ways to attract new visitors who might not otherwise be attracted by its heritage.

The country came up with the Jordan Trail, a 650 kilometre wander through the country linking 52 villages and towns and showcasing dramatic and diverse landscapes, biodiversity, history, and local culture.

Mapped by over 40 volunteers from 2012-2015, the Jordan Trail runs from Um Qais in the north to Aqaba in the south. Now the difficult part has begun. The trail marking needs to be done and this will take a couple of years so it isn’t expected to formally pen until 2018. The trail marking, which helps orient hikers to both identify their location as well as the direction of their hiking journey, began in Um Qais which will be the trail’s primary starting point.

You might think that choosing a route would be easy: just join up the heritage and wildlife or environmental sites and there you have it. It isn’t quite as easy and over fifty variables went into selecting the route. The reason it isn’t so easy is because few of us would want to walk 650 kilometres so it had to be broken down into bite sized pieces so that those who wanted a gentle walk could cover just a few kilometres of fairly flat ground but which still passed stes to justify the trail. At the other end of the scale, there would need to be long sections which would include difficult terrain. Then all this had to be married together in a sensible way that could be sold by local tour operators.

Even though the whole Trail is not marked, the website outlines the different opportunities and gives guidance as to the difficulty of each of the suggested walks. So, for example, the Um Qais to Ziglab walk is about 24 kilometres, should take about eight hours, is rated as a moderate hysical challenge and takes you along a reservoir and dam as well as the Um Qais Roman ruins. the website even suggests the best time to make the walk – in this case, Spring.

The Jordan Trail is divided into 8 segments, each representing a distinct region. Each segment has 4-5 day long hikes. The full trail takes 36-40 days to walk. While some hikers will walk the entire length of the Trail, the Trail is fully accessible to be enjoyed in sub-segments as short as one day.

The trail has another purpose other than stimulating tourism as it creates job opportunities and space for community based tourism projects to emerge. In rural areas, employment opportunities are few except in traditional industries. Creating tourism projects gives employment whilst preserving ways of life that might otherwise have disappeared.

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