AMMAN — Harking
back to a time when religious pilgrimage was the basis of tourism in many
countries, Jordanian Christian leaders are travelling to Europe to promote
Christian tourism to the Kingdom, a Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) official said on
According to the UN
World Tourism Organisation, around 300 to 330 million tourists visit key
religious sites around the world annually, making nearly 600 million national
and international religious trips, 40 per cent of which take place in Europe.
“We need to educate
people that Jordan is a holy land. The start of the Christian pilgrimage began
here,” said JTB Managing Director Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat.
highlighted the importance of informing worshippers at church services about
the holy sites in Jordan.
“It makes a
difference when it is a priest who’s talking to people,” he told The Jordan
Bader, director of the Catholic Centre for Studies and Media in Amman, was the
first priest to attend masses in European churches. He attended three services
in Barcelona earlier this week, Arabiyat said.
Some 10 other
priests and Christian leaders from different Jordanian churches will be joining
the tour in Europe, he added.
“The participating priests
have faith in the country and the important religious role the tour plays, in
addition to promoting tourism as a whole in Jordan,” the JTB official added.
destinations are chosen by the board’s offices in several countries after
studying the local interest in visiting Jordan for religious purposes,
according to the JTB.
The top European
countries from where tourists are interested in visiting religious sites in the
Kingdom include Spain, Italy and Russia, in addition to several countries in
North and South America.
topping the list are Lebanon and Egypt, according to the JTB.
There are around 34
Christian holy sites around Jordan, Arabiyat said, including the Baptism Site,
Mount Nebo, Anjara, Tel Mar Elias and Madaba.
“The fact that the
sites are mentioned in the Bible makes them significant to many Europeans,” the