Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project

Jordan Trail becomes more self-reliant

12 Jul 2018
Name: 
Bashir Daoud
Region: 
Amman

 

The 650-km Jordan Trail runs the length of the country, passing through diverse landscapes and 52 villages. It was founded by a group of hiking enthusiasts and in 2016 the Jordan Trail Association (JTA) was established to manage and maintain the trail. USAID BEST provided support to JTA from the onset, helping the association in its set-up phase and working to build its capacity to oversee the trail and attract visitors to experience the unique and engaging adventures it can offer.  

 

“USAID BEST was the first to acknowledge JTA’s potential and believe in its noble goals and objectives,” stated JTA General Manager Bashir Daoud. He said, “Without the financial support of USAID BEST, JTA would not have achieved so much in such a short time. USAID BEST support has been key to institutionalizing JTA, through developing a five-year strategic business plan and building the capacity of JTA staff. These efforts have assisted JTA in laying the foundation for a sustainable association.”

 

USAID BEST also helped JTA map and way-mark sections of the trail, build the capacity of local escorts and businesses along the trail, and market it in Jordan and around the world. Support has enabled key income-generating and promotional hikes, including First2Finish, the Jordan Trail Run and two annual Jordan Trail thru-hikes.

 

Throughout the two years of USAID BEST support, the Jordan Trail Association became increasingly self-reliant in implementing events and maintaining the trail. Following extensive guidance and support from USAID BEST for the first thru-hike and other activities, JTA implemented the Jordan Trail Thru-hike 2018 on their own, which attracted around 550 participants, triple those of the previous year’s hike.

 

Among the 2018 thru-hikers was Sunny Fitzgerald, travel specialist, adventure writer and local expert for Lonely Planet. Half-way into her journey Sunny reflected, “I think the Jordan Trail is starting to sell Jordan in a new way that will attract different types of travelers. It is showing visitors that there is an adventure side, in addition to the cultural side of Jordan. The Jordan Trail is becoming something that Jordanians can take pride in and care for.”

The development and maintenance of the trail is showing positive impacts, not only for visitors, but for locals as well, as many took part in the day or weekend hikes.

“I never knew my own country had nature like this,” said Adnan Matouq, adding, “It’s awesome that there is this initiative here in Jordan.”

 

JTA conducts events such as the thru-hike to promote the Jordan Trail, raise funds for the association and create financial opportunities for the people living in the 52 villages and communities along the trail.  To date, about 160 families and 30 service providers are benefitting from the development of the trail.

In May 2018, the Jordan Trail Association received the King Abdullah II Ibin Al Hussein Decoration for Excellence, one of the highest decorations in Jordan, as well as the International Institute for Peace through Tourism Award at the Resilience through Tourism Summit 2018. This year, the National Geographic also chose the Jordan Trail as one of 21 “Best of the World” destinations for 2018.

 

“The Jordan Trail Association has, in a short period of time, put Jordan not only on the adventure map of the world, but as a safe travel destination,” said Mr. Daoud, “the Thru-Hike is also gaining much momentum and is becoming an event that local and international hikers can look forward to annually.”

 

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