Friday, February 19, 2010

In reply to an Editorial in the Jordan Times

Not wishing to take the name of the Lord in vain, I couldn’t help but exclaim a huge 'Oh my lord, what are you thinking Mr Editorial' – when I read your thoughts on developing and pushing tourism at the Baptism site.

Whoever wrote that piece of misinformation, should take a few steps back and reflect on the course of action that has been taken and is being pushed in the name of tourism development. First of all, we need to remember that this is a religious site, special to so many people of many beliefs, not to mention historians, archaeologists and the Jordanian public at large - this is not Vegas!

As such, the existing visitor’s centre and accompanying shops/restaurants/facilities are more than adequate for the needs of tourists. If they would like to spend the night, a simple ten minute drive up the road will give a superb choice of hotels to use. Another beautiful drive through pristine landscape will give a choice of some charming hotels at much lower rates in Madaba, thus supporting the local community. And within thirty minutes they are back in Amman … so why the need for more hotels - those notorious water wasters?

The point being because of the natural beauty and spiritual significance of this very special place, it should not be developed. People come here to get away from modern development. As it is, the huge number of churches being built is questionable – couldn’t we just have had one international church for all the faithful?

The thought of walking in the footprints of prophets, of bonding with the surrounding landscape of earth, sand, water, stone and vegetation untouched by consumerist demands is what I look for at this site and I know this is what ‘the tourist’ wants too – a unique experience. Touristic buildings will take away the one treasure and special feature of this site ----its natural landscape and the fact that it is not developed. I don’t see how a church can place “tremendous strain on the present infrastructure” as claimed in the editorial, after all 25,000 people do not descend on the place all in one day! The work that is needed is simple and already in place – good site management – ie people focused!

And I don’t like predictions …. so all those hundred of thousands of people making their way to Jordan will only come if they are encouraged … so why encourage them? People know their own religion, this place will speak for itself, if only we can maintain its sanctity.

Real estate developers and proponents of infrastructural development have an unfair say in forcing change on a society trying to keep up. And while we are at it, it is not the infrastructure at tourism sites that needs to be considered, rather the way they are administered, maintained and managed, again people focused. It is a simple question of understanding that buildings need people to run them properly. How many times have I gone to tourism sites, found a lovely piece of ‘infrastructure’ with no information inside them, and a bored and embarrassed guard who cannot even hand out a leaflet about the site being visited, due to inter-departmental squabbles about who does what and when.

And finally, “with few other resources”, concludes the editorial, the writer proceeds to put the horse before the cart by focusing on the tourist. I would have thought that all that money assigned to infrastructural development, would be better spent on developing training and opportunities for Jordanians in the tourism industry. That would be a much wiser decision indeed.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does every Christian denomination have to have its own kind of church in that crowded river bank? If they all believe in the same Jesus who was baptized there, why can't they all use one or two churches/shaded areas and the same baptismal pools? It's like a gold rush to stake out one's own little claim - and for what holy purpose? It's going to ruin a very special place - where one could still walk through the "wilderness" of John the Baptist's hermitage, listen to little streams running towards the river, and sense the spirit of the holy place. Umm D (Disappointed)

Friday, February 19, 2010  
Anonymous kinzi said...

Anon, I think it is a bit like Jerusalem, where every denomination has their own church and hostel.

Perhaps there are some roots in tribalism, and lingering bad feelings over tribes going back and forth between denominations over alliance issues of the past.

I love the unity of the different denominations in the different forms of architecture, and proximity. It is an image of our unity, as every nation, tribe and tongue will be represented before God's throne. Each denomination brings a different gift and beauty and form, we would not be whole without the other.

That said, I would NOT want to see hotels. As the writer mentioned, there are many close by. This place should be one that is visited, enjoyed, and left in peace without the messes of mankind marring the evenings.

Friday, February 19, 2010  
Blogger Patricia said...

I could not believe my eyes when I read in the editorial that an airport was considered and could even be considered again, near the site. And, as you say, there are plenty of hotels around, why on earth would anyone want to compromise a wonderful site with hotels and restaurants? It is all about how much money can be got out of tourists and not what is best for the site. T

Wednesday, February 24, 2010  
Blogger 知道 said...

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010  

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