Sunday, 15 January 2012

2 decade master plan for Petra rewarded

In today's JT you can read about the Pierre l'Enfant International Planning award which this year has gone to the strategic master plan for Petra.

The Sanctuary
The Pierre l'Enfant International Planning award is an award that recognises planning practices and efforts (outside the US) to promote communities of lasting value. Read more about it on APA's (American Planning Association) website. In Petra's case it has been awarded "to the Petra strategic plan in recognition of its balancing the need for the preservation of important archaeological resources with the need for increased tourism and economic growth" (JT).

Petra is a UNESCO archaeological site and has seen in the past years a was-to-be-expected but unplanned  for rise in tourist visits. Such an exterior support is in my opinion a great and very welcomed help for Jordan. Tourism in Jordan represents today one of the economy's major components and most of the sites in Jordan are facing big challenges, including environmental degradation,  limited water availability and unplanned tourism growth, to name a few. This is clearly putting a site as Petra at risk.

Notice the horse/donkey stables in the back
The Jordanian government has established the Petra Development and Tourism Regional Authority, this is in charge over the region as well as the entire archaeological site. A multidisciplinary team had been created and they have received input from local leaders and groups in order to create the mentioned master plan. This plan will be implemented over the next 2 decades and will help with "attracting investment, developing infrastructure, diversifying and enhancing tourism services and facilities..." (Mohammad Farajat in the JT).

In 2010, Petra welcomed a little short of 1 Million visitors according to this article from the Jordan Tourism Board website, that's a 68% increase to 2009. I wasn't able to find official figures for 2011, maybe because the figures show a decline in tourists because of the Arab Spring. In the coming years the number of visitors to Petra will continue to rise - even with the very expensive entrance fee of 50JD/person for 1 day - so investments and environmental management is a big must for the site and for Jordan. Petra, and it's amazing beauty, need to be protected and fast.

The Siq - the walk down to the Sanctuary
The award will be handed out in April during the APA's national conference and later the master plan will be featured in their magazine. 

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