Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project

Registration for the First Jordan Trail Thru-Hike is now open

20 Mar 2017

(Amman, 20 March) Today the Jordan Trail Association announced that registration for its first thru-hikeis now open. This adventure along the entire Jordan Trail is set to begin on March 31st in Um Qais and end in Aqaba on May 13th. Those interested in participating also have the option of taking part in day or weekend trips, or hiking specific sections of the trail.

The Jordan Trail Association is responsible for developing and maintaining the Jordan Trail, a 650 km trail traversing Jordan, and offers free access to information for hikers and companies to package and walk the trail. Although the JTA does not organize tours, it will be organizing an annual thru-hiketo help sustain its operations and further develop the trail and services along its sections.

The USAID Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project (BEST) is supporting this effort, as is the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, which seeks to encourage local participation on the hike and is thus subsidizing 40% of early registration fees for Jordanians to support domestic tourism.Registration fees cover transportation, stays, meals, guides and logistical support throughout.

According to Muna Haddad, Chairman of the Board of the Jordan Trail Association, “The thru-hike will be an annual event to promote the trail and help sustain JTA operations as it works to develop and way-mark the trail. Since JTA’s establishment in 2015 we worked on making the trail more accessible to those wishing to explore the outdoors of Jordan. We believe that enjoying the outdoors responsibly through hiking is a healthy recreational activity that we wish to encourage by working with service providers along the trail, regularly updating GPS points, way marking the trail and providing maps and guidebooks for hikers. We will also support local communities along the trail tobenefit from it directly by offering accommodation and services for tourists.”

The Jordan Trail passes through 52 villages and cities as well as historic landmarks and diverse landscapes, giving hikers the opportunity to discover the rich history, traditions and nature of Jordan. The trail has great potential for domestic tourism and can help put Jordan on the international map of adventure tourism and benefit local economies.

Talking about his experience on the Jordan Trail, Mohammad Zayadin, the first to complete a thru-hike with Mohammad Homran, said, “It was a great opportunity for me to learn more about Jordan, its nature and its people. I discovered that Jordan is not only beautiful but also very diverse. I also learned more about Jordanians and local dishes and traditions that vary as you move from north to south. The hike helped me get better acquainted with Jordan’s culture and landscape, which was important and quite enjoyable."

Doha Fayaad, Karma Tabaa and Dina Aqel were the first women to complete a thru-hike of the Jordan Trail. According to Doha, “My only concern prior to commencing my journey was visiting unknown areas, but the continuous help and support of the Jordan Trail Association made things much easier. Parts of Jordan’s terrain are difficult and I faced some challenges at the beginning. But after walking the entire trail I feel much stronger physically and mentally. Also, the hike helped me build stronger relationships with my friends, and the best part is that developing and way-marking the Jordan trail is done by volunteers just like us for us to enjoy!”

Last week the JTApresented its strategic plan for the next five years togovernment and private sector stakeholders, including tour group representatives and volunteers who helped develop the trail,obtaining their feedback to ensure JTAsustainability.