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Al Sela village earns spot on UNWTO’s 2023 list

By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa - Oct 25,2023 - Last updated at Oct 25,2023

Al Sela village located 16 kilometres south of Tafilah (Photo courtesy of Al Sela Tourism Association)

AMMAN — Al Sela village in Jordan has made the list of the Best Tourism Villages 2023 issued by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). 

“The accolade recognises villages that are leading in nurturing rural areas and preserving landscapes, cultural diversity, local values and culinary traditions,” said UNWTO in a statement issued last week.

In its third edition, the list honours 54 villages selected from approximately 260 applications. Twenty villages were also selected this year to join the UNWTO Upgrade Programme, which helps villages meet the recognition criteria through addressing identified gaps during the evaluation.

Al Sela village is located 16 kilometres south of Tafilah, a town in southern Jordan, some 183 kilometres southwest of Amman.

The village is home to the historical Sela Castle which enjoys a strategic site atop a rocky plateau. The castle is known for its unique carved out reliefs and artefacts, bearing witness to ancient human civilizations, the statement added, according toAl Sela Tourism Association.

"Tourism can be a powerful force for inclusivity, empowering local communities and distributing benefits across regions," said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

"This initiative acknowledges villages that have harnessed tourism as a catalyst for their development and well-being,” he added.

All 74 villages were named last week during the UNWTO General Assembly in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. They are now part of the UNWTO Best Tourism Villages Network, which currently includes 190 villages from around the world.

This network is “a space for exchanging experiences and good practices, learning and opportunities among its members, and it is open to contributions of experts and public and private sector partners engaged in the promotion of tourism as a driver for rural development”.

Al Sela Tourism Association indicated that an engraved representation of the Neo-Babylonian King Nabonidu (556-539BC) was uncovered in Al Sela high on the south-east facade of the castle. 

The association said that the current residents of the village inhabited it around the turn of the last century, and they work in agriculture and animal husbandry. 

It offers visitors an authentic tourism experience with the participation of the local community, who “take pride in” sharing their culture with others; tourists can enjoy the village’s scenic nature in addition to taking part in festivals and exhibitions that introduce them to its popular games and traditional cuisine, it added. 

The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has implemented a number of vital projects in the village, including establishing a visitors’ centre to receive tourists and an eco-lodge that is currently managed by Al Sela Tourism Association, according to the statement.

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