JITOA, through the support of the European Commission (EU) funded – Jordan Service Modernisation Programme (JSMP)/JEDCO, is in the process of developing a national initiative: ‘VolunTourism Jordan’. “In response to a growing global emphasis on volunteering and service, tourism professionals in Jordan recognize the importance of creating itineraries that include both volunteering and tourism,” says Nizar Al Adarbeh, executive director of JITOA. “Here at JITOA, we are developing a national initiative, ‘VolunTourism Jordan’, to address this.”
In 2010, JITOA invited David Clemmons, Founder of VolunTourism.org, to the Hashemite Kingdom in order to conduct a series of workshops on VolunTourism with NGOs, community-based organizations, tour operators, and local, regional, and national governmental figures. The primary focus was to provide a basic introduction to VolunTourism and to answer general questions on the subject.
Expanding on these first, successful discussions and interactions on the subject, JITOA has continued to pursue VolunTourism for Jordan and has once again brought Mr. Clemmons back to the nation – this time, to concentrate on creating this national initiative: ‘VolunTourism Jordan’. Through a second round of funding support from (JSMP/JEDCO), JITOA will be conducting focus groups in June 2011 with university faculty, NGOs, community-based organizations, tour operators, and governmental figures throughout Jordan. These focus groups will provide specific topics to be covered in a series of practicum-seminars to be conducted in the north, the middle, and the southern parts of Jordan. The practicum-seminars will feature lectures as well as hands-on volunteer activities for attendees during the month of July 2011.
Joining JITOA staff and Mr. Clemmons to facilitate the focus groups is Dr. Jan Louise Jones, Graduate Coordinator and Travel & Tourism Management Advisor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies from the School of Health and Human Services at Southern Connecticut State University. Dr. Jones, who has received a research grant from the Connecticut State University (CSU) system to conduct focus groups with faculty from Jordanian colleges and universities to better understand their opinions and thoughts on the cultural and societal challenges and opportunities of combining volunteering and tourism in Jordan, arrived on June 16, 2011 for a two-week engagement.
Following a comprehensive review of the information and commentary gathered from the focus groups and practicum-seminars, JITOA will generate a new website – VolunTourism.jo – to be offered in both Arabic and English to serve travelers, tourism professionals, NGOs, governmental officials, and university faculty and students. The official launch of the website will occur following Ramadan 2011.