World Heritage Alliance for Sustainable Tourism Announces Partnership to Protect Jordan's World Heritage Sites
Industry, government and non-profits come together in support of sustainable tourism
Washington, DC; Amman, Jordan — October 31, 2007
The World Heritage Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (WHA) – a membership-based initiative launched in 2005 by the United Nations Foundation and Expedia, Inc. – announced today a partnership between the Alliance and the Jordanian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities designed to preserve and protect Jordan’s designated UNESCO World Heritage sites while promoting responsible tourism to the country. The partnership covers all three cultural World Heritage sites -- Petra, Quseir Amra, and Um er-Rasas –as well as other important natural and cultural heritage areas in Jordan.
“Jordan is a birthplace of civilization and its sites serve as important reminders of the importance of the intersection of historical, cultural and community values,” said Ted Turner, Founder and Chairman of the UN Foundation. “More people should experience this history, our global history - and to do so with an understanding of how they can tread lightly and give back. That would go a long way in fostering greater understanding and peace in the world.”
“Together we educate people around the world about Jordan, the importance of these sites to civilization and how government, communities, industry and international organizations can all work together to guarantee World Heritage sites are here to be enjoyed by present and future generations,” said H.E. Osama Dabbas Minister of Tourism and Antiquities.
The partners hope this new collaboration will also provide a way for the larger tourism industry - including hotels, tour operators, and other tourism service providers - to support World Heritage conservation and sustainable tourism in Jordan through membership in the WHA and work together to transform business practices to be more sustainable, educate their customers about World Heritage, and support local communities through conservation and sustainable development initiatives around the sites.
“We must all be committed to protecting these sites and promoting sustainable tourism practices that preserve the sites and help build economic benefits for local communities. Jordan is leading by example, today, in committing to this partnership,” said Erika Harms, Executive Director of the World Heritage Alliance for Sustainable Tourism.
“We’re proud to work with this group in Jordan to promote sustainable travel to World Heritage sites throughout the country,” said Paul Brown, President, Expedia, Inc. Partner Services Group & Expedia North America. “We look forward to finding ways to expand our efforts, especially through educating travelers about ways to experience Jordan’s most treasured sites in a responsible way.”
The partnership includes collaboration with UNESCO, the US Agency for International Development Jordan Tourism Development Project (Siyaha), and several local organizations. USAID/Siyaha and WHA will implement a program to assist in strengthening the management of Jordan's World Heritage sites, most notably in Petra, and launch a public awareness campaign about these three sites. In Petra, support will also include a combination of grants to community-based organizations and local businesses, training, and development of local tourism projects and activities consistent with World Heritage and sustainable tourism principles.
“USAID is proud to deepen its commitment to Jordan’s heritage preservation and sustainable tourism development. Petra represents a unique opportunity and a special responsibility for Jordan. USAID will contribute to the Jordanian effort to make Petra a universally recognized success story,” said Jay Knott, USAID/Jordan Mission Director.
“Jordan’s cultural and historic treasures are becoming widely known and attracting more tourism to the country. It is crucial that we preserve the very treasures tourists are coming to appreciate, rather than let mass tourism contribute to their degradation. ” said Francesco Bandarin, Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
The announcement was made today following a meeting of the UN Foundation’s Board of Directors. The Board was welcomed by UN Foundation Board member, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan, who joined the Foundation’s Board of Directors in September 2006. The UN Foundation serves as a platform for partnering with the United Nations to help corporations, foundations, governments, and individuals make a difference in the important work of the UN.
On 25 October 2007, Jordan was elected to a 4 year term on the 21 member inter-governmental World Heritage Committee, the body in charge of implementing the UNESCO World Heritage Convention.