Welcoming approximately 212,000 visitors in 2023, the Baptism Site observed an increase by 36 per cent compared with 2022, according to Director General of the Baptism Site Commission Rustom Mkhjian.
“Number of visitors in December fell by around 70 per cent, however all together this year has been the best ever since the opening of the site,” Mkhjian told The Jordan Times.
Prior to October 7, the year-over-year increases in the number of visitors to the site were overwhelming, with 2023 being the year that received most traffic, he added.
“In 2022, the total number of visitors to the Baptism site reached 156,000.”
The war on Gaza has led to spillover effects, the official said, emphasizing that the Kingdom continues to be a safe and secure destination for all tourists from around the world.
During the first two weeks of October, the visitor count was rising, “but following mid-October, numbers started to drop. A 50 per cent decrease was observed in November”.
“The overall numbers in December fell approximately 70 per cent when compared with the same period in 2022.”
The director general said that people coming from Italy and France constituted nearly 35 per cent of the total number of visitors; the majority of Arab tourists came from Lebanon, while local visitors accounted for around 6 per cent of the total visitor number.
According to Mkhjian, the trend for restoration and renovation emphasize the true character of the site, noting that during the pandemic the site’s commission focused on turning challenges to opportunities, making the site more accessible, and establishing a new visitors’ centre, in addition to training guides to become specialized in faith-based tourism.
In 2024, the silver jubilee of Epiphany is to be commemorated at the baptism site “Bethany beyond the Jordan”.
Starting on the January 12, prayers, masses and ceremonies of the Epiphany will be held by the churches in Jordan, bringing together thousands of pilgrims from Jordan and abroad.