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Jordan Tourism Revenue Reaches JD1.1 Billion in 1st Half of 2010 

Tourism revenue rose by 36 percent in the first half of 2010 to JD1.1 billion compared with JD811.5 million in the first period of last year, according to spokesperson of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities Insam Malkawi. Tourism revenues last June also edged up by 19 percent to JD201million compared to JD169 million in the same period of last year. The spokesperson for the ministry also mentioned that the number of visitors to the ancient city of Petra rose by 18 percent, Jerash 34 percent, Karak castle 22 percent and the Baptism Site 23 percent.

Petra Introduces New Electronic Ticketing System

PETRA – This summer, Petra park officials have introduced a new electronic ticketing service, to facilitate quicker entry for visitors, according to the Petra Archaeological Park (PAP). Petra ticket barcodes now indicate the numbers and nationalities of visitors streaming into the rose-red city each day.

The system, under which officials check tickets with handheld scanners, also allows park officials to check what time tourists enter and track peak visiting hours for future management plans at the park.

According to the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA), future plans include an expanded electronic service whereby visitors can reserve a day and time for their visit from kiosks to be placed in Amman, Wadi Musa and Aqaba.

Under the expanded system, visitors will be required to present their tickets at both entry and exit points, so that park officials can keep tabs on the number of tourists in the ancient Nabataean city at any given time, PDTRA officials told The Jordan Times previously.

Managing the flow of visitors has been at the top of park officials’ agenda, as peak times for tour groups lead to overcrowding, particularly in the Siq, which currently serves as both the entrance and exit to the park.As part of their plans for visitors, Petra officials have considered introducing an alternate exit and imposing limits on how many visitors can enter in a given hour.

PDTRA figures released earlier this week revealed that some 53,283 people visited the ancient Nabataean city last month, a 23 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2009, when 43,147 tourists visited the site. Approximately 515,000 tourists visited Petra in the January-July period, 40 per cent more than in the first seven months of 2009, when 368,000 tourists visited the site, the PDTRA indicated.

Queen Rania Announces Twisit Winners(Jordan Times)

AMMAN (JT) – Her Majesty Queen Rania on Tuesday announced that Ahmad Sharar and Carla Moreno were the two lucky winners of her online campaign to promote Jordan as a tourist destination.
As part of the tourist swap, in cooperation with Twitvid (a Twitter application) and the Jordan Tourism Board (JTB), anyone above the age of 16 who had never been to Jordan was eligible to win the week-long trip for two by uploading a video explaining to Her Majesty why they would like to visit the Kingdom, and what they would like to see.
Meanwhile, Jordanians got the chance to upload videos welcoming people to their country and telling the world why Jordan is worth a visit.
All the videos submitted online as part of the competition, launched last month, received more than 260,000 views.
“Twisit is about fostering greater dialogue and understanding between people of different cultures,” Her Majesty said, describing the online “tourist swap”.
“It’s not a passive vacation; it’s an active learning experience. It’s about challenging yourself to visit somewhere new; it’s exploring; it’s listening and thinking; it’s swapping stories and experiences; and it’s about discovering something new about yourself and others,” she pointed out.
Sharar, who won the competition out of many Jordanian entries, will get a chance to visit the US, where the non-Jordanian winner, Moreno, hails from. The winners were selected from 10 finalists by online voting.
The 20-year-old, an electrical engineering student at Yarmouk University, expressed his excitement about winning the competition on Her Majesty’s Facebook page.
“I feel so proud and happy to win Twisit. Thanks a lot everyone, I would have never won without your love and support, and a special thanks goes to Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan,” he wrote.
Moreno, who lives in Seattle, got the news early in the morning due to the time difference and thanked all those who voted for her via her Twitter account: “Just got news… I won #TwisitJordan! 3 nights of no eating/sleeping paid off! Thank you Tweeties!”
The tourist swap is part of Queen Rania’s ongoing efforts to bridge the gaps between cultures and a continuation of her endeavour to encourage cross-cultural dialogue, as on YouTube and her recent New York Times bestseller children’s book “The Sandwich Swap” .
The initiative also comes as part of Her Majesty’s continuous efforts to promote Jordan internationally as a great tourist destination.

Ecologists Discover New Habitat of Rare Fox(Jordan Times) AMMAN – Ecologists announced on Monday that Blanford’s fox (Vulpes Cana), a locally and globally threatened mammal, has been found in “more than expected numbers” in Jabal Masouda, a proposed protected area. Previous studies indicated that the fox’s habitat in Jordan was only in the Dana Biosphere Reserve, the Wadi Rum Protected Area, and Petra, and that very few of them inhabited the Kingdom. But a recent study funded by the Dutch government and carried out by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) found a larger community of Blanford’s foxes in Jabal Masouda area. Located in the south of Jordan in Maan Governorate, Jabal Masouda is named after the highest mountain peak in the area. The site, with an elevation ranging between 180 metres and 1,500 metres above sea level, contains three bio-geographical zones – Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian and Saharo-Arabian – according to the RSCN. The proposed protected area, part of Al Sharah mountain series, is characterised by steep mountains and seven vegetation types, from juniper in the highlands to sand dunes and acacia trees along the valleys in the lowlands, according to the RSCN.
Eid said the Jabal Masouda proposed protected area stretches over 300 square kilometres, but the habitat of the Blanford’s fox is restricted to only 50 square kilometres.
He said a lack of research in the area was the reason behind the late discovery of the species there. “The Blanford’s fox is listed under the IUCN Red List for Threatened Species. It is a small fox, active during the night, and has a thick, furry tail that helps it balance while jumping over steep rocky mountains,” Eid told The Jordan Times yesterday over the phone.  

A plan for protecting the small furry mammal, drawn up by the RSCN, mainly entails raising local communities’ awareness of the uniqueness of Blanford’s fox, in addition to preserving the animal and its habitat, according to Eid.