Long before Petra became a World Wonder, many suggested that they would not be voting for it primarily out of “concern” that Jordan did not have the required infrastructure to uphold the site. In my opinion, I think those people were probably too cheap to spend the 10 piasters for voting or waste their valuable time on the Internet. However, there does remain a concern.
Two Petra-related articles emerged today in light of the recent win, with the following headlines: 1) “$100 million action film to be shot in Petra” and 2) “Petra tourism expected to double”.
The former is a movie entitled “The City of Lost Spirits” and it seeks to “…expose the myths and legends of Petra over a history of 3,000 years, was written by Jordanian writer/director Sandra Kawar. The Jordanian partner in the Ã¢â‚¬Å“dealÃ¢â‚¬Â, Blaze Agency, said the production would be ready for screening in two years if things go according to schedule.”
The latter was an announcement made by Faruq Hadidi, secretary general of the Tourism Ministry, who says the Ministry is expecting the average number of 400,000 visitors to Petra, to double as a result of its win. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister stated that a large convention center is about to be built to host events in Petra. “The prime minister said that his government is investing in the selection of Petra as one of the wonders of the world and will be applying a new approach to market Jordan as a tourist destination.”
The way I see it, perhaps becoming a World Wonder is the best thing to happen to Petra. This isn’t just about tourism being one of the main pillars of Jordan’s economy, but also about satisfying that fundamental economic equation of demand meeting supply. In this case, we could assume that putting Petra in such a light, forces the government to raise the bar; forces the government to upgrade the site. It’s the same way countries around the world vie for the honor to host the Olympics. Most of them don’t meet the requirements in the beginning and most of them make only promises. But once they’re chosen they put all their energy into upgrading they’re cities to become Olympic-ready.
We are seeing Amman run along those same lines. Increased pressures on the city’s infrastructure from the recent influx of Iraqi as well as Gulf tourists and massive investments, to say nothing of the increasing urban population, has forced the government to invest heavily in upgrading the city’s infrastructure. From tunnels and bridges to environmental controls and urban planning. I would argue these past four years or so have seen the most amount of planning and project implementation than in the city’s entire history.
The same should be expected of Petra. Hopefully the expected increased demand will drive the government to speed up its “supply” so to speak. It’s the “if you build it they will come” philosophy but more like “they’re coming so you better start building!”
Moreover, this really isn’t just about the short term. No one should kid themselves into thinking that the moment the announcement was made, thousands of tourists were lining up around the corner. Becoming a World Wonder means becoming a legacy, something for the history books that will outlast this generation and the next. It’s the fall of the first domino.
The key to all this is to think positively and not put down a site as a complete failure before it has the chance to get off the ground.
But that’s just my 2 piasters…