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Tourists and Cruises
Mike Seeley defends tourism against its critics:
Petra, "The Rose-Red City" is in a remote part of Jordan, and Jordan is a poor country. When I first saw Petra 35 years ago, when I lived in Amman (the capital of Jordan), very little restoration had been done. The Antiquities people had no money and they had a dozen major projects they wanted to pursue.
The National Police ran Petra because nobody else had the funds or manpower, and the Chief was an educated man who cared deeply about the past. Tourists began to come to Petra, and after the Six-Day War, when the country was more stable, they came in larger numbers. Cruise lines and package tours included Petra. That money enabled restoration work to begin in earnest. Photographs of The Treasury and other unique sites appeared in magazines throughout the world. More people came. Promising pre-Nabatean ruins were discovered on the mesas above Petra where a German team had been working . More sites were discovered, more archeological digs began.The Antiquities officials began work on Sulayman's castle in the desert, and the Roman cities.
I am not up to date, but the sequence of events in those years is clear in my mind. I feel fortunate to have seen Petra in an almost undisturbed state, and slept in a cave with soot on the ceilings from long before Christ; but now the fascinating past of the region is unfolding to the scholars and others. And it was the tourist dollars that started it all.
Ronald Hilton - 09/25/99