AMMAN — A local initiative is aiming to increase diversity in Jordanian tourism by focusing on the Kingdom’s heritage.

The Carob Tree Initiative was launched in January and is led by six university students from the Madaba Governorate, implemented through a fund by the USAID programme Youth Power, in partnership with the Jordan Heritage organisation.

“The initiative aims to preserve Jordanian heritage and design a remarkable experience for tourists,” Reeman Dwiek, the project’s technical lead, told The Jordan Times.

Dwiek said the initiative focuses on carob trees, which are associated with John the Baptist, for two main reasons: Carob is used as an essential ingredient in traditional Jordanian cuisine and the trees are rare and threatened with extinction if not preserved.

“We also want to increase tourism product diversity in Madaba,” Dwiek said.

Dwiek noted that there is much to explore when it comes to Jordanian historical sites, and a large part of the initiative was to encourage both international and domestic tourists to visit John the Baptist Site, located in Mukawir.

“Madaba is the second most visited tourism site in Jordan, but although over 700,000 tourists visiting Madaba in 2019 — only 5,000 visited the John the Baptist Site,” project leader Yazeed Khroub told The Jordan Times.

“The site is of great importance, as it is mentioned in the Bible,” Dwiek added.

Dwiek said the initiative aims to create jobs for young people and help them find their passion and provide for themselves. She also noted that the initiative was beneficial, as all participants had to learn a second language and, in some cases, a third for them to be able to communicate with tourists.

“There’s an interactive museum in downtown Madaba that is fully operated by local youth,” Khroub said.

Khroub added that the museum is designed to engage tourists in “a five-sense experience, an experience that is instilled in each tourist that visits the museum”, he concluded.

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