Jerash Municipality to implement development projects worth JD13m

(MENAFN- Jordan Times) JERASH — The Jerash Greater Municipality is scheduled to initiate several development projects worth JD13 million to link Jerash's old and new neighbourhoods in June, an official has said.

The projects aim to extend tourists' stay at the city, Jerash Mayor Ali Gogazeh told The Jordan Times on Saturday.

The projects will be funded by the municipality's fund and the French Development Agency, who agreed on the principles but are still discussing the amount of the contribution, according to the mayor.

Gogazeh said that the projects would improve the city's economic and tourism revenues and create "thousands" of job opportunities.

The projects include establishing a hotel with a cost of JD2 million, a multistorey parking lot worth JD1.8 million, revamping the old part of the city centre, "the Ottoman neighbourhood", which would cost JD1.6 million, and cleaning the facades of some buildings amounting to JD500,000, according to the mayor.

He said that, in cooperation with the local community, the old houses of the Ottoman neighbourhood would be used as lodges to accommodate tourists.

The projects will also include revamping the riverbed of Wadi Jerash, "the river of gold", which separates the city's ancient and modern parts, with the provision of safe crossings in addition to the existing and in-use Roman Bridge, he added.

The plan requires paving the main road of the city centre and finding alternative roads for vehicles, Gogazeh said.

Yousef Zreiqat, a tourism expert, said that Jerash is the second largest archaeological site after Petra, hence it receives the second largest number of visitors.

However, tourists do not stay overnight at Jerash for several reasons, foremost of which is the short time they are given in their trips itineraries. The visit is usually part of multisites day visit, Zreiqat said.

"Tourists stay two to three hours in Jerash, which does not allow exploring other attractions and activities in the city," the expert added.

Zreiqat, who is also a member of Jerash Governorate Council, said another reason is the absence of hotels.

He urged for creating activities, other than visiting the ancient Roman site, to guarantee extending the duration of the tourists' stay.

Authorities should consider raising the awareness of the local community towards tourism to ensure positive interaction and providing suitable atmospheres and services.

Zreiqat said that there should be also a trail that includes additional attractions and activities, during which tourists would see additional monuments from various eras, enjoy local meals, and visit local families and other activities.

According to archaeologists, the modern city of Jerash lies on top of the eastern side of the ancient Roman city, which means that the archaeological park usually visited by tourists is only the western part.

The eastern side, however, offers some surviving ancient monuments, such as the Great Eastern Bath, the Roman entertainment compound (Al Berektein), Saint Procopius Church (Byzantine era), and the Ottoman neighbourhood.

In addition to the ancient attractions at the eastern side, visitors can enjoy wandering the city marketplaces, restaurants, cafés, spice shops and many others, Zreiqat said.



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