Thursday, June 11, 2015

Jordan's Tourism

JERASH JOURNAL: Conflicts in Syria and Region Take Toll on Jordan’s Tourism (RANA F. SWEIS, NYT). The article has a lot about the site of Gerasa/Jerash, on which some past posts are here, here, and here. You can see from the first that this is not a new problem for Jordan's tourism. The article also discusses some other Jordanian historical sites:
The intrepid tourists who do come to Jordan’s archaeological sites often have other parts of the region on their itinerary as well, including Israel, the West Bank and Egypt. Jack Spears, an American from Phoenix, flew to Jerusalem first before making his way to Jerash, 30 miles north of Amman, the Jordanian capital. As he completed his tour of the ruins here, he stopped to look at the monumental Arch of Hadrian at the entrance, erected to honor the emperor’s visit to the city in A.D. 129.

“When you start off, it looks small, and like there’s not much to see,” he said of the sprawling site. “But the more you go in, the bigger and better it becomes.”

In calmer times a few years ago, it was easy for visitors to book a tour with stops at three spectacular ancient sites — starting at Petra, the famous city carved from rose-colored stone cliffs in southern Jordan, then Jerash, and on to Palmyra in Syria.

Palmyra has much in common with Jerash: Both were crossroads of cultures in the ancient world, and both feature well-preserved colonnades and majestic Roman amphitheaters. But Palmyra recently fell under the control of the Islamic State extremist group, which has been known to loot or smash many cultural artifacts. According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Islamic State used the amphitheater in Palmyra to kill nearly two dozen prisoners.
Lots more on Petra here and links and on Palmyra here and links.

And tangentially related: ‘Massacre’ averted in Luxor, Egyptian police say after bombing. Security measures ramped up at tourist sites in wake of foiled attack on famed Karnak temple, as crucial industry struggles to survive (AFP). That was a close call. Although no one but the terrorists were hurt, this incident is not likely to do the Egyptian tourism industry any good.