Giovedì, 20 Settembre 2018
ROME

Tourism to Jordan's Red Sea resort Aqaba on the rise

English
© ANSA

(by Kate Carlisle) Rome, July 29 - Tourism in the
burgeoning autonomous economic area know as ASEZA (Aqaba Special
Economic Zone) is on the rise as developers continue to invest
in infrastructure and entertainment, and visitors discover the
endless beauty the area has to offer.
The Red Sea resort had 481,365 visitors in 2012, up from
464,067 in 2011, the city's tourism board said, with most of the
tourists who stayed in the dozens of hotels coming from Western
and Eastern Europe, Jordan, the Americas and Arab countries.
Jordanian architect, professor and Head Commissioner of
ASEZA Kamel Mahadin said that "Aqaba emerges as a unique
destination combining attributes of modernism and history and is
celebrated as a mixing platform for the different flavors of the
region. It stands proudly carrying its history, culture, beauty
and heritage as it is surrounded by picturesque mountains and
blue sea".
ASEZA, a liberalized, low-tax, duty-free area that has
its sights on becoming a world-class hub for business and
leisure, is easily accessible to the Middle East, Asia and
Europe.
"Aqaba's modern infrastructure, easily accessible Airport,
luxurious hotels, proximity to the city of Petra and to Wadi
Rum, often called the valley of the moon are some of the reasons
why Aqaba is strongly presenting itself to the world as a unique
tourism destination. Another important reason is the
exceptional spirit of hospitality, warmth and generosity its
people have," Mahadin said.
Khaled Darwish, one of the owners of Sindbad Group for
marine transportation, water sports and yachting in Aqaba, noted
that Aqaba is a growing destination for western European
tourists especially for diving, water sports and sailing.
Tourists landing in Aqaba, regardless of their age,
interests or hobbies, have a broad range of activities to chose
from, Darwish said.
"Because of its magnificent marine life and unique weather,
with north winds and warm waters above 20c most of the year,
water lovers find Aqaba is a corner of paradise," says Darwish.
Sea and water activities are abundant. Visitors can peer
into the crystal clear waters while cruising the Aqaba Gulf in a
glass-bottomed boat, sailing fans have access to yacht tours of
the Red Sea, coastal and deep-sea fishing are available and
speedboats have fast-lane access.
Parasailing, one of the newest sporting treats in Aqaba,
has taken off while windsurfing remains a popular activity.
While there is no end to activities and entertainment,
"diving should be high on the list," Mahadin said.
"There are crash courses for shallow-water diving and 47
different companies to choose from. It is the best way to see
the coral reef and 20% of diving fees goes to preserving the
environment," Mahadin says.
In 2012, scuba diving was a main tourism attraction in
Aqaba with over 25,000 international divers exploring the wealth
of coral and brilliantly coloured fish.
"The Red Sea is known all over the world as one of the
absolutely best places to dive, the water is pleasantly warm and
the visibility is amazing, more than 30 meters of sight is not
unusual. The aquatic life is diverse and numerous with sea
horses, anemone fish, turtles, manta rays, whale sharks and much
more," Talal N. Abumahfouz, Dive Operations Manager for Aqaba
Adventure Divers Resort, said.
"We apply extensive efforts for coral preservation and
restriction on fishing, which helps to assure that divers will
spot lots of fish, shellfish, octopus, turtles and everything
you wish to see. The local dive centers are very active in
cleaning up dives and often the guests participate, this shows
the involvement of both the local dive industry and the guests,"
Abumahfouz said.
Nature enthusiasts can also visit the Aqaba Bird
Observatory (ABO) situated at the north-western border of the
city.
It lies in the Rift Valley near the tip of the Gulf of
Aqaba just above sea level in a flat arid region.
The ABO is located between Africa, Sinai and the Arabian
Peninsula along one of the most important Eurasian - African
bird migration flyways.
The artificial wetland site attracts large numbers of
migratory water birds, raptors and passerines especially during
spring and autumn migration.
The man-made site has become an extremely important
sanctuary for a high diversity of migratory birds, with over 200
different species stopping en route during migration.

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