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Petra, Wadi Rum, Baptism Site and Aqaba: Oprah’s visit shines a spotlight on Jordan’s gems

Mar 27,2023 - Last updated at Mar 27,2023

The recent visit of American TV mogul Oprah Winfrey to Petra, Jordan, has created a buzz in the tourism industry. With her massive following, Oprah’s visit presents a unique opportunity for Jordan’s tourism sector to showcase its attractions and encourage more tourists to visit our beloved country, Jordan. 

Petra is already a popular tourist destination, known for its ancient city carved into rock and stunning architecture. Oprah’s visit to this iconic site will undoubtedly attract even more attention to this UNESCO World Heritage site. The rose-red city is not only a stunning display of ancient architecture, but it also has cultural and historical significance, making it an excellent choice for those interested in history and culture.

Wadi Rum is a desert landscape located in the southern part of Jordan. It is a popular tourist destination that is renowned for its majestic views and unique natural formations. This desert region is characterised by towering sandstone cliffs, red sand dunes and wide-open spaces that stretch as far as the eye can see. It is a truly remarkable place that is like no other.

One of the things that make Wadi Rum so special is the fact that it has been used as a filming location for many Hollywood movies over the years. The landscape of Wadi Rum is so unique and otherworldly that it has become a popular location for science fiction and fantasy movies.  Some of the most famous movies that have been filmed there include “The Martian”, “Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker”, and “Dune”. Most recently, the upcoming movie “John Wick 4” was filmed in Wadi Rum. This will be the fourth installment in the popular “John Wick” movie series, and fans are eagerly awaiting its release.

However, Oprah’s visit doesn’t stop at Petra. The tourism sector in Jordan can also use her visit to promote other lesser-known but equally magnificent sites, such as the Baptism Site and Aqaba.

The Baptism Site is a sacred site where Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist. The location on the Jordan River is believed to be where the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus, peace be upon him.  The site has historical and religious significance, making it a popular destination for Christian tourists. 

Oprah’s visit could be beneficial to promoting the New Baptism Development Project, which was launched by His Majesty King Abdullah in December 2022. The project is located on the banks of the Jordan River, where Jesus Christ has been baptised. The goal of the project is to create a world-class destination for religious tourism while also preserving the natural beauty of the area and promoting sustainable development.

I was lucky to be part of the design team and one of the master planners for the project. The development zone covers an area of over 1400 Dunums and includes a range of amenities and attractions. These include hotels, restaurants, shops, museums and cultural centres. The project also features a series of natural landscaped parks and gardens, which provide visitors with a tranquil setting to reflect and connect with nature.

The landscape design of the Baptism Development Zone is characterised by a deep respect for the natural environment. The design team worked closely with landscape architects, ecologists, and environmentalists to ensure that the project would have minimal impact on the fragile ecosystem of the Jordan River. The result is a landscape that seamlessly blends in with the surrounding environment, using native plants and trees to create a harmonious and sustainable ecosystem.

Aqaba, on the other hand, is a coastal city with beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and stunning coral reefs. It is an ideal destination for those who enjoy water sports, such as diving and snorkelling. Oprah’s visit to Aqaba could help put it on the map as a must-visit destination.

In addition to Oprah’s visit, the inclusion of the Jordanian city of Aqaba in Time Magazine’s “World’s Greatest Places of 2023” list is another boost for Jordan’s tourism industry. This list features 50 extraordinary destinations to explore this year, and Aqaba was chosen for its beautiful beaches and coral reefs, making it a popular destination for scuba diving and snorkelling.

The recognition of Aqaba by Time Magazine is a significant achievement for Jordan and can attract more tourists to the city. Aqaba has undergone a transformation in recent years, with the development of new hotels, restaurants and other tourist amenities. An illustration of this would be Ayla, a resort developed by the Ayla Oasis Development Company, one of Jordan’s biggest tourism and real estate development firms. It is a significant attraction for both domestic and foreign visitors. The Ayla Resort offers a picturesque escape, surrounded by majestic mountains, striking blue lagoons, a private marina and the 18-hole Ayla Golf Club fairways. This accolade can increase the visibility of Aqaba and position it as a must-visit destination for travellers looking for a unique and unforgettable experience.

The tourism sector can leverage Oprah’s visit to Petra, the Baptism Site, Wadi Rum and Aqaba through various marketing strategies. Social media campaigns, influencer marketing and targeted advertising can help reach a broader audience and showcase the beauty of these destinations.

Get ready to discover the hidden gems of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan! Thanks to Oprah’s recent visit to Jordan, this presents a unique opportunity for the country’s tourism sector to showcase its beauty and culture to a broader audience. The buzz on social media platforms following Oprah’s visit can help create a positive image of Jordan as a safe and attractive destination for tourists. With social media spreading the word, this summer is the perfect time to visit and experience everything Jordan has to offer. Not only will you have an unforgettable trip, but you’ll also be contributing to the country’s economy and supporting local communities. 

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