The National Association of Directors of Christian Pilgrimage in France (Association Nationale des Directeurs de Pèlerinages/ANDDP) has decided to change its policy in its annual meeting by announcing a few days ago that it will hold its meetings next year in Jordan. This is an event which our dear readers of newspapers and websites may have overlooked, but I assure that it is an unprecedented and global event, as well as a very important one for religious tourism in Jordan. This is attributed to the fact that the ANDDP was founded 75 years ago, and that it holds its meetings every year periodically in one of the French cities or one of the important touristic sites, as it has been the case a few days ago when it convened meetings in the famous religious touristic city, namely Paray le Monial of Paris in France, located 300 kilometers southeast of Paris. Once this announcement regarding the venue of the next meetings was made, those present tumultuously applauded it with joy mapping on their faces.
Why do we consider it an important event?
This is due to the fact that since the establishment of the ANDDP, no ideas have emerged about holding its meetings outside the border of France, as this time it will be in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Frankly speaking, this is the fruit of great efforts exerted by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the Jordan Tourism Board, the Baptism Site, and the Jordan embassy in Paris in association with the Catholic Center for Studies and Media (CCSM) in Jordan. Every year, an invitation used to be sent to the Jordan Tourism Board, the Baptism Site, and the CCSM through the Jordan embassy. The invitations have always been favorably welcomed every year with part of the annual program is usually devoted to talking about Jordan and supporting Jordanian tourism. Clear and lucid addresses were made by Jordan embassy representative Samia Nustas, Director of the Baptism Site Rustom Mkhjian, Jordan Tourism Board Director Amer Twal, and CCSM Director Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader (the writer of this article). Based on this partnership, the idea was formed that the ANDDP would meet next year in Jordan.
What is important in this regard is that the ANDDP includes managers and heads of departments specialized in directing Christian pilgrimage trips to and from France. As we know that France has several touristic sites that also need internal organization as is the case with the renowned grotto of Blessed Mary in Lourdes, located in the south of France, which is visited annually by millions of pilgrims from all over the world, as well as from France itself in compliance with special seasons called the Christian National Pilgrimage.
So, the ANDDP will hold it meetings in Jordan, and a preliminary program has been prepared as it includes the participation of at least 160 directors and managers of pilgrimage, as well as a number of bishops, priests, and pilgrimage specialists. They will also be accompanied by a number of journalists and media professionals to follow this great touristic event and convey it to all parts of the world.
We really need to express gratitude and appreciation to those in charge of this initiative, to the preparation committee, and to the ANDDP that favorably responded to this great event. It is hoped that in the wake of this, tourism will be very active particularly by the French side through the intensification of Christian pilgrimage visits to Jordan and staying for several days in Jordan. We have felt that several changes were introduced in the past years after having conducted several annual meetings whereby there is an eight-day pilgrimage to Jordan that includes visiting and praying at historical sites, as well as meetings with citizens and local churches in order to serve as a bridge between Jordan and France.
We hope that the ANDDP will hold a successful meeting in Jordan in November next year marking the inauguration of the Baptism Site. We also hope that it will bear fruit and breathe life into tourism from France to Jordan. Cooperation has begun with several countries including Italy, Spain, Portugal, as well as with other European and global countries. As usual, Jordan welcomes positive initiatives with open arms in order to promote tourism continuously.
May these efforts be blessed, and may several pilgrimage officials be involved so as to always place Jordan on the map of their blessed annual plan in the coming months and years.