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New job creation project to support local communities along Jordan Trail

By Camille Dupire - Oct 22,2018 - Last updated at Oct 22,2018

A continuous route crossing the entire country of Jordan, the Jordan Trail offers over 650 kilometres of trail and 36 days of hiking through diverse terrains and landscapes (Photo courtesy of the Jordan Trail)

AMMAN — A new project aimed at supporting local communities in the south of Jordan who live in close proximity to the Jordan Trail was launched on Sunday, under the title “Shiraka Project”, sealing a new partnership between the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, Leaders International (LI) and the Jordan Trail Association.

“Supporting underserved communities and the private sector has always been at the heart of efforts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and its partnership with Jordan. Today’s event marks the continuous commitment of the Netherlands to support the Jordanian private sector and tourism industry which is an important pillar in its economy,” Chargé d’Affaires of the Kingdom of The Netherlands Renate Pors stated at the signing ceremony, voicing hope that to see the project result in “real changes to incomes and jobs and an overall improvement of conditions”.

The two-year project, titled “Creating new economic opportunities for communities along the southern Jordan Trail” and funded by the embassy’s Shiraka fund, will help support hundreds of micro and small businesses in southern Jordan, especially between Karak and Wadi Rum, with a low percentage of funds dedicated to the Jordan Trail Association, Communications and Business Development Manager at LI Sami Alaul told The Jordan Times on Sunday.

Scheduled to launch in November, the project will begin with an outreach campaign to local communities and the Jordanian private sector, according to Alaul, who said that the importance of the private sector’s involvement “stems from the belief of the crucial role of mature businesses in Jordan to provide the necessary technical support to micro and small businesses, matching them with volunteer mentors from Jordanian society itself with the expertise and networks to realise the growth potential of the businesses and helping them increase their efficiency, productivity and exports”.

The project will proceed to provide training, business linkages, mentorship and marketing support while a majority of the project funds will directly support businesses with grants, Alaul, who was involved in the project’s design, continued.

“While local communities stand to benefit from the Jordan Trail passing their communities, they are in need of support to create and build successful businesses that meet the specific tastes of international and local tourists,” he pointed out, stressing that the project aims to “secure the sustainability of the route while enhancing interest in, and protection of, the route by local communities”.

A continuous route crossing the entire country of Jordan, the Jordan Trail offers over 650 kilometres of trail and 36 days of hiking through diverse terrains and landscapes, according to its website, which noted that the hiking trail traverses some 52 villages and towns on its way.

 “This project comes at an excellent time, as we’re expecting hundreds of hikers in the next hiking season starting March 2019 – by then we expect that local communities will be providing these hikers with services and products, generating an income, creating jobs and benefitting directly from tourism in their areas. This will not only help the local communities, visiting hikers, but importantly ensure the sustainability and environmental protection of efforts around the Jordan Trail,” commented Bashir Daoud, CEO of the Jordan Trail Association, during the ceremony. 

Voicing his support for the embassy’s contributions to Jordan’s tourism sector and economy, LI Country Director Hamzeh Shamaileh stated “the project will support the plans of the Jordanian government to stimulate the tourism industry and take advantage of the increased attraction of international tourists to come to Jordan as a destination for adventure, experiences and culture”.

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