Med Pearls presents Ajloun reserve, a case of slow tourism in Jordan
Ajloun is a unique destination showing an outstanding example of slow tourism by transforming a reserve to a complete touristic area with impressive benefits for tourists and locals
Let us explain the project by highlighting the following facts:
Over the years Jordan has focused on improving tourism as a means to support it’s economy. Recent work has revolved around creating an eco-tourism focussed destination by promoting its culture and heritage, and at the same time protect the environment, and engage local communities. The best example for slow tourism is Ajloun Forest Reserve.
Ajloun is a mountainous area located north of Amman. This Forest Reserve dates back to 1987, when it was established as a project to protect Jordan’s rare forest areas. The Reserve includes a combination of fauna and flora, and in 2000 it was announced as an important Bird Area by the RSCN (Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature) and BirdLife International. Currently, Ajloun Forest Reserve has one of the most effective outreach and public awareness programs among Jordan’s nature reserves, which stresses the importance of this reserve and the need to maintain it.
These initiatives are unique, and beneficial to the local communities. One of the most outstanding achievements in this area is the focus on Ecotourism, which aimed at generating income to support protection, create nature-inspired jobs, and change attitudes towards conservation, as well as to help people understand and appreciate their natural heritage. They offer tax deductions as part of the CSR donations, media exposure, and other special opportunities.
Previously, this area was a popular visitation site for hikers, who would come and spend a few hours in its unique surroundings, and then leave.
Following the development of the Ajloun Forest Reserve, and the surrounding areas, tourists and local visitors are now able to spend one or more nights in recently-built, eco-friendly lodges. Concerned stakeholders became heavily involved in the social and economic development of this area.
The fun part is that tourists can get engaged in local handicrafts and products that can benefit both local communities and tourists at the same time, by creating unforgettable experiences. These nature-inspired businesses, produce special, hand-made products (soaps, jams, olive oil from the famous olive groves of Ajloun, among others) all of which are sold in their natural environment supporting locals. Additionally, several training workshops were conducted for locals, who are now able to lead hiking activities with the visitors, and consequently generate more income.
Another community-based activity, which has become very popular, especially among international tourists, is the opportunity to experience the local cuisine of the area being hosted by a local family for lunch, which not only delights the visitors, but provides a source of income for home-based, income-generation activities, especially for women, as part of the women empowerment component.
Finally, the project is one of a kind by having a combination of slow tourism with outstanding benefits for all stakeholders.
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