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Baptism Site sees record high number of tourists, says commission  

Al Maghtas witnessed 27,000 visitors in March 2023

By Maria Weldali - Apr 05,2023 - Last updated at Apr 05,2023

Worshippers are seen attending Epiphany near the Baptism Site, also known as Al Maghtas (Photo courtesy of Baptism Site Commission)

AMMAN — Tourism to the Kingdom’s Baptism Site of Jesus Christ, has seen record highs, witnessing the highest quantity of tourists in about two decades.

In an interview with The Jordan Times on Tuesday, Director-General of the Baptism Site Commission, Rustom Mkhjian, revealed that “the current period is probably the busiest ever, and the number of visitors coming are the highest the site has ever seen”.

Further reflecting on this unprecedented year for tourism, Mkhjian said that all trends suggest growing tourist traffic, noting that current figures project that over 200,000 tourists will visit the site this year.

In the first quarter of 2023, the Baptism Site, also known as Al Maghtas, received 58,274 visitors, a growth rate of about 160 per cent when compared with the same period of 2022. In March alone, 27,000 tourists visited the site, a 115 per cent jump when compared with March of 2022, and a 35 per cent increase when compared with March of 2019, a year during which Jordan’s tourism witnessed an “exceptional boom.”

Apart from the 58,274 tourists, over 20,000 visitors attended epiphany celebrations for all Christian denominations in January and February of this year, Mkhjian said.

“Each and every month was the best ever,” he added.

Illustrating the importance of optimising faith tourism, Mkhjian noted that FAM trips — short for “familiarisation” — are vital both for tourists who would like to learn more about the site and for the industry to capitalise on new types of tourism content. 

This year’s tourism boom has stemmed from joint efforts and continuous cooperation among stakeholders such as the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Jordan Tourism Board, the Baptism Site Commission, and the private sector, Mkhjian said. 

Now with the increasing interest in the Baptism Site, greater emphasis should be placed on attracting tourists from Africa, specifically Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria, as well as Eastern European countries, such as Romania and Poland, Latin America and Eastern Asia, he said.

Italian tourists make up the biggest share of visitors, followed by tourists from France, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom and Greece, respectively, Mkhjian added.

Of the Baptism Site’s visitors, 60 per cent are Europeans, 24 per cent are from the United States, 7 per cent are Jordanians and visitors from Arab countries, the remaining 9 per cent are visitors from Africa and East Asia.

 

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