Following a set of workshops and familiarization experiences in the North (Ajloun) and in the South (Petra) of Jordan, the Jordan Inbound Tour Operators Association (JITOA) concluded a three-part educational series on its most recent initiative – – VolunTourism Jordan – – for tour operators, community-based organizations (CBOs) and NGOs in Amman this past weekend.
On Saturday morning, JITOA Member Services Director, Mahmoud Al Arab, delivered a compelling presentation on the potential of VolunTourism for the Hashemite Kingdom. He spoke specifically about the connection between tourism (Siyaha) and volunteering (Tatawo) and the significant role that CBOs and NGOs will play in the development of this initiative throughout Jordan. This workshop was followed by a session specifically directed to the tourism sector. David Clemmons, Founder of VolunTourism.org, explained the necessity for cooperation and collaboration between the tourism sector and the social sector and how such partnerships may lead to a new perception of tourism as well as direct economic impacts for local communities and tour operators.
On Sunday, thirty representatives from tour operators, CBOs, and NGOs convened in Iraq Al Amir to work with the Iraq Al Amir women’s cooperative on two projects. Cosmetic improvements were made to shelving within the pottery workshop while other ‘voluntourists’ spent the morning conducting outdoor beautification projects in the garden areas that pepper the cooperative property. Teams removed brush and other rubbish as well as pruned trees and bushes to increase visibility of the Iraq Al Amir showroom, which features handicrafts produced by the women.
Following a lunch made by the women of the cooperative, ‘voluntourists’ had a chance to experience some of the handicraft areas via hands-on participation – weaving, recycled paper-making, and decorating tiles. Walid Alsboul, of Friends Tours, particularly enjoyed this aspect of the VolunTourism Jordan Familiarization Experience. While Julie, who is serving as an intern with Hamzet Wasel, was impressed with everything, “I now have a story to tell my friends and family back in France.”