Who Would Have Known? Jordan and Israel are one Destination for Many Tourists

The Holy Land was for many hundreds of years not divided, and that makes sense from the point of view of a tourist or pilgrim. After all, the sites of Nazareth are part of the same story as the sites of Bethlehem for a Christian tourist, and the sites of Jerusalem are part of the same story as Hebron for a Jewish tourist.

Tourism transcends borders, and in fact, it is one of the only industries in which there is close cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian businesses and individuals on a constant basis.

Whilst this cooperation somehow surprises many people, the cooperation between Israeli and Jordanian businesses when it comes to tours to Petra from Israel is somehow surprising to people. Petra, the incredible Nabatean city carved into the rock reddish rock of the Jordanean Desert, lost, rediscovered, and declared one of the 7 Wonders of the World, and a UNESCO WOrld Heritage Site is a major attraction for Jordan, perhaps the country’s biggest draws. One of the largest sources of visitors to Petra, however, is actually tourists who are primarily traveling in Israel and cross into Petra on a one or two day tour. Every day, many tens or even hundreds of tourists start off on Tours to Petra from Eilat, and this happens without a blink of the eye. It’s become normal for tourists to make this trip, and it’s become totally normal for the Jordanians and Israelis involved to be working together. In fact, recently, the Israeli government approved a plan to allow Jordanian workers from Aqaba, just across the border from Eilat to cross into Israel on a daily basis to work at the understaffed hotels in the Israeli city.

The cooperation between Jordanians and Israelis is admirable, but it’s main driving force is business. And that’s a natural driving force, that’s a driving force with shared gain in the good times and shared pain in the bad times. A driving force like this is not going to dry up overnight, and builds truly strong two way relationships.

So, don’t take a tour to Petra because you want to do something to support some coexistence project. Don’t take a tour because you want to revel at the idea of Jews and Arabs working together. Take the journey because that is a journey you have dreamed of taking, and in doing so, you’ll strengthen an industry where everybody is winning.

About the Author
Ben Julius is the founder of Tourist Israel, Israel's largest travel website.
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