In the city of religious tourism par excellence, namely Fatima in Portugal, we stayed with some 500 men and women who came from 48 countries around the world to participate in the 10th International Conference on Religious Tourism, which was organized by Portuguese organization ACISO.
However, it is the first time that a Jordanian delegation participates in the conference which comprised of participants from the Jordan Tourism Board, the Baptism Site, and the Catholic Center for Studies and Media. Furthermore, Jordan was considered a guest country par excellence and a special session was assigned right after the opening session during which Portuguese Minister of Tourism Rita Marques, Rector of Fatima Grotto Fr. Carlos Cabecinhas made addresses.
I had the honor of moderate the assigned one-hour session to introduce Jordan, the Holy Land, which contains numerous religious and historical religious sites and treasures. I also highlighted the importance of religious tourism for the pilgrims coming to Jordan in order to fit the discussion with the theme of the conference on religious tourism, and indicated that visiting Jordan is not meant to find out about old landmarks, but it is an opportunity to learn about the distinguished Jordanian situation qualified by harmony.
Then Amer Twal, an official of the Jordan Tourism Board, talked about the importance of the tracks and maps of religious tourism, as there is the pilgrimage path "Egeria" and the path of John the Baptist. The introduction included a display of excessively beautiful images of dear Jordan.
Then Ahmad Marwan Al-Hamoud, of the Jordan Tourism Board, talked about the importance of tourism companies in European countries such as Spain and Portugal in their capacity a bridges that extend a link with south American countries.
Director of the Baptism Site Engineer Rustom Mkhjian presented an invaluable historical information that associates archaeological sites in Jordan with the Baptism Site particularly between the Map of Madaba, which dates back to the 5th century, and the Baptism Site. While, Zakaria Abbadi talked about the national carrier, Royal Jordanian, and the future trends.
In the aftermath of the official sessions, bilateral meetings took place between representatives of the exporting and receiving tourism sectors, as I learned that there were over 1,350 meetings at 100 tables designed for bilateral meetings. These meetings went beyond being acquaintance sessions to meetings designed to map out cooperation plans between countries and its effective role on the tourism sector.
The last session was Jordanian par excellence during which the Jordan Tourism Board presented gifts to the participants in the conference which included water of the River Jordan, mud and salt of the Dead Sea, brochures on tourism areas, and keffiyehs (head dresses), in addition to Jordanian sweets that were brought especially for this event. It was a great coincidence as these moments coincided with the Feast of St. John the Baptist who lived in Jordan, baptized Lord Jesus Christ in the waters of the River Jordan, and was martyred in the Fortress of Machaerus, Madaba Governorate. This gathering was dedicated to talk about the importance of this martyred saint, and an occasion to reflect on a more grand celebration relevant to him to be held in Jordan in the coming years, especially the anniversary of his martyrdom, which is held annually on August 29 of every year.
In the end, the whole issue is not dependent on one conference, but rather through my participation over the past 25 years in the activities of the Jordan Tourism Board, I would rather say that plans are developing annually, and that the recovery in the aftermath of the Corona-caused recession will be fully fulfilled by the end of this year, God willing, and that the upcoming religious tourism will be promising and thriving. Reliance is always on God and the good efforts of the combined tourism sectors.