The USAID/Jordan Tourism Development Project (Siyaha) signed a letter of understanding in December 2007 with the UN Foundation to work with the World Heritage Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (WHA) to foster sustainable tourism to, and conservation of, World Heritage sites in Jordan. Jordan has three cultural World Heritage sites: Petra, Quseir Amra, and Um er-Rasas.
The World Heritage Alliance is also partnering with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to preserve and protect Jordan’s designated UNESCO World Heritage sites while promoting responsible tourism to the country. Jordan is the second country to form an agreement with the Alliance, which is a joint project of the UN Foundation and Expedia, Inc.
It was selected for a number of reasons, including the country’s drive to develop its tourism industry and the fact that a strategy is already in place for developing Petra in a sustainable manner.
“We have already begun working with local entities and communities in Petra to support the city’s preparation for the expected influx of visitors to the site. The agreement with the World Heritage Alliance will give us access to valuable expertise as well as tools to educate stakeholders on sustainable tourism to complement our work and enhance its effectiveness in the long term,” said Ibrahim Osta, USAID/Siyaha chief of party.
USAID/Siyaha will implement a program to assist in strengthening the management of Jordan's World Heritage sites, most notably Petra, and launch a public awareness campaign about these sites. In Petra, support will also include a combination of grants to community-based organizations and local businesses, training, and development of local tourism projects and activities consistent with World Heritage and sustainable tourism principles. Efforts will also integrate USAID/Siyaha’s work with the Petra National Trust to create a Petra zoning plan.
The UN Foundation in turn will support the mission of USAID/Siyaha in various ways, including using its outreach tools to educate travellers and the private sector about the cultural and natural values of Jordanian World Heritage sites.
“Jordan is a birthplace of civilization and its sites serve as important reminders of the importance of the intersection of historical, cultural and community values,” said Ted Turner, Founder and Chairman of the UN Foundation. “More people should experience this history, our global history — and to do so with an understanding of how they can tread lightly and give back. That would go a long way in fostering greater understanding and peace in the world.”