Responsible Tourism Campaign Tackles Petra World Heritage Site

Responsible Tourism Campaign Tackles Petra World Heritage Site

An international taskforce coordinated by global equine welfare charity the Brooke has launched a multi-faceted responsible tourism campaign to address common problems seen at the Petra UNESCO world heritage site.

The ‘Care for Petra’ campaign aims to improve tourist attitudes and behaviour towards working animals, working children and the historic monuments of Petra in Jordan – one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Tourists unintentionally use injured or weak donkeys and horses to travel around the large site. The campaign provides advice for tourists on ways to prevent animal suffering in the Park and encourages visitors to enjoy the monuments on foot instead wherever possible.

Very young children work on the site selling souvenirs and offering donkey rides. The awareness campaign asks visitors not to buy items from children or give them money, as this encourages them to stay out of school.

Petra donkey
Petra, famously featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 25 years ago, is carved into the fragile sandstone making it prone to irreversible erosion. Visitors are asked to avoid standing or climbing on the monuments, and also not to buy pieces of rock or antiquities illegally offered for sale.

Under the chairmanship of the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority, the Brooke has steered the taskforce of 11 government and non-governmental organisations towards today’s launch, under the patronage of His Excellency the Prime Minister of Jordan.

Jennifer Titmuss, Campaign Coordinator and Advocacy Advisor at the Brooke, has seen the campaign develop from concept to launch.

“Almost two years ago, a taskforce of organisations with very different objectives came together having realised that protecting Petra’s heritage, eliminating child labour and improving animal welfare were issues that were interdependent and intrinsically linked to actions taken by tourists. The Brooke was honoured to take on a campaign coordinator role and steer the organisations towards the launch and execution of Care for Petra.

“Protecting Petra’s heritage, securing the future of children, and improving the welfare of working animals requires a collective effort by authorities, communities and tourists alike. This campaign calls upon tourists to play their part by making the right choices, and thinking before they act, buy or ride within the park,” said Ms Titmuss.

The campaign will have high visibility on-site including an animated video showing tourists how to make the right choices which will be shown on-loop by the ticket office queue. Visitors will also receive flyers to further explain the problems related to animal welfare, child labour and site protection. There will be posters and banners displayed in the Visitors Centre and at the entrance to the park. Longer-term, the taskforce will work with the tourism industry to inform visitors of the issues when booking their trip to Petra so that messages are reinforced once at the site.

The Brooke, now in its 80th year of operation, has previously developed guidelines to help tourists make the right decisions when considering the services of a working horse or donkey while on holiday. The Happy Horses Holiday Code, launched in 2010, was well-received by tourists and the travel industry, eventually being translated from English into Spanish and German. The Brooke advised on working animal welfare issues for the ABTA Codes for Animals in Tourism in 2013.
The Brooke has worked in Petra since 1988 supporting the government to establish an equine welfare clinic and training owners and service providers on good welfare practice. The charity recognised the need for an educational campaign to help address some of the issues it regularly received complaints about. One such complaint came from Roger Giles who wrote to the Brooke to voice some of his concerns after visiting Petra.

“We recently spent 10 days on a visit to Jordan, which was a very enjoyable holiday and one we would be happy to promote. However, our visit to Petra, which is an amazing site and exceeded our expectations, left us with unhappy memories of the use of horses and donkeys which we felt were not given the animal welfare and respect they deserve,” said Mr Giles.

Care for Petra is a step towards improving the experience for future visitors to Petra while at the same time addressing longstanding animal welfare, child labour and site protection issues.

To learn more about the campaign and the Brooke’s work in general visit www.thebrooke.org.