AMMAN — Visitor numbers to the Baptism Site saw the highest increase since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, topping 9,756 in September, a 56 percent increase from the previous month, according to Al-Ghad News.
The site of the Baptism of Jesus will host pilgrims during Epiphany celebrations in early 2022, under specific conditions as outlined by the instructions of defense orders. This comes after the pandemic prevented pilgrims from performing their rituals at the beginning of this year.
Rustom Mkhjian, director general of the Management Office of the Baptism Site, said that the reason for the increase is due to the sustainability of the efforts of the site’s management in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the Jordan Tourism Board, and all workers in the tourism sector, tourist offices, and airlines.
As for the Epiphany celebrations, Mkhjian confirmed that the management of the site decided, in coordination with Council of the Heads of Churches in Jordan and relevant authorities, to hold the Epiphany celebrations under specific conditions and according to defense orders, to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.
Visitors must have received two doses of the coronavirus vaccine, or one dose in addition to a recent negative PCR test, and any other health requirements stipulated by the defense orders.
He points out that an agreement will be made with the Council of the Heads of Churches in Jordan to determine the number of participants in the celebrations, to ensure that health requirements are met, such as social distancing, and wearing masks, among other requirements.
The Baptism Site is where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist according to Christian beliefs, and it was opened to visitors and pilgrims in the year 2000 after the visit of Pope John Paul II. Since then, thousands of Christian pilgrims from all over the world have celebrated the Epiphany each year at the Baptism Site, which has become a destination that receives tourists and Christian pilgrims daily.
In 2015, the UNESCO declared the Baptism Site on the east bank of the Jordan River as a World Heritage Site, which increased the number of its visitors, which topped 200,000 visitors in 2019.