Jordan’s Petra Region, one of the World’s New Seven Wonders, receives National Planning Excellence award
The Strategic Plan for the Petra Region in Jordan, one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World,” will receive the 2012 American Planning Association’s Pierre L’Enfant International Planning Award. The strategic plan balances the need for the preservation of important archaeological resources with the need for increased tourism and economic growth.
The Pierre L’Enfant International Planning Award recognizes planning practices and efforts undertaken outside the United States to promote communities of lasting value. The international landscape architecture, land planning, urban design and strategic services firm, Design Workshop, was the only American entity within the three-partner consortium that the Petra Development Tourism Regional Authority (PDTRA) retained to complete the strategic plan.
A 6th century BC archaeological site, Petra, was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985 and more recently named one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World.” In addition to its importance as an archaeological site and cultural icon, its tourism draw is the second largest component of the Jordanian economy.
That tremendous tourism growth, however, may put the highly valuable archaeological resource at risk. The region also faces challenges with environmental degradation, population growth, child labor, limited water availability, unchecked development, lack of infrastructure and management of the archeological park.
A conflict exists between the need to protect the archaeological site and the need to promote tourism to benefit the country’s economy. Local residents and leaders understand that the integrity of these resources is critical to the region’s long-term economic health and well-being.
To address these challenges, the Jordanian government established the Petra Development and Tourism Regional Authority (PDTRA) to oversee the nearly 200,000 -acre region, including the Petra Archaeological Park. A multidisciplinary, international team of planners, landscape architects, tourism planners and local experts was retained by the PDTRA to prepare under the direction of PDTRA’s Commissioner for Local Community Development and Environment, Dr. Mohammad Farajat, the Strategic Master Plan for the Petra Region, providing a guide to preserve its archaeological, ecological, and cultural resources while planning for the needs of a fast-growing population. More than 400 local leaders, women’s groups, youth groups and experts provided valuable input to the team made up of Design Workshop of Aspen Col, ATC Consultants of Vienna, Austria and JCP of Amman.
According to Dr. Farajat, “The master plan, which is to be implemented over the next two decades, will guide development of the Petra region in terms of attracting investment, developing infrastructure, diversifying and enhancing tourism services and facilities, etc. in a way that ensures sustainability through a balance between tourism activity, archaeological and environmental conservation and involvement of the local community.”
The strategic plan includes:
Provisions for watershed management within targeted growth areas;
Sets aside 93.8 percent of the region as conservation zones and open space;
Addresses dependencies on unsustainable tourism practices;
Provides opportunities for economic diversification; and
Proposals for managing regional transportation impacts associated with mass tourism.
The development of Petra’s strategic master plan was supported by the USAID Jordan Tourism Development Project (Siyaha), which worked closely with the PDTRA to prepare a solid and comprehensive Request for Proposals for the development of a master plan for Jordan’s top tourism attraction and one of the world’s significant archaeological sites. USAID/Siyaha provided international expertise in various related areas, including master planning, as well as legal, financial and environmental aspects in order to solicit a holistic plan that involves all stakeholders, from the government to the local communities, and create a balance between the tourism value of the site, the need to protect it, and ensuring that the local community benefits directly. Terms of Reference for a master plan for the Petra region were developed and advertised internationally by USAID/Siyaha. As a result, over 30 companies from Jordan, Europe, Australia and the US made bids. USAID/Siyaha also supported the evaluation process to select a bidder to develop the master plan, providing technical assistance throughout the process.
The Pierre L’Enfant International Planning Award will be presented at a special awards luncheon on April 16, 2012, held during APA’s National Planning Conference in Los Angeles. The Petra Region plan also will be featured in an upcoming issue of Planning magazine, APA’s flagship publication.