Jordan's desert wonder Petra sees a spike in visitors
January 15, 2023 / 1:01 PM
Sharjah24 - AFP: Hussein Bdoul is beaming as he tends to his camels in Petra, Jordan's magnificent archaeological wonder tucked away in a desert canyon: the tourists have returned.
After years in which the Covid pandemic turned the storied "Rose City" into a ghost town, the father of seven is back at work, offering visitors rides on his decorated animals.
"Tourism has returned and the numbers are even greater," said Bdoul, 35, wearing Bedouin garb with a red keffiyeh scarf over his long black hair, reflecting on a resurgence last year.
"At the time of the coronavirus pandemic, we did not see anyone in Petra," said Bdoul -- a disaster for the town where, he said, "90 percent of people work in tourism".
"We hope from God Almighty that people will stay well."
Jordan tourism authorities confirm that Petra is back in business and drew 900,000 visitors last year, close to the record of one million set in 2019.
Jordan as a whole received 4.6 million visitors in 2022 -- almost four times the level from 2020 -- earning the country $5.3 billion.
Top draw Petra, famous for its stunning temples hewn out of the rose-pink cliff faces, is a United Nations World Heritage site and was chosen as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a 2007 online poll.
It was built in 312 BC as the capital of the ancient Arab kingdom of the Nabateans, which fell to the Romans in 106 BC.
The ancient city remained unknown in the West until a Swiss traveller visited it in 1812.