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Tourism on the rise in Jordan's Red Sea resort Aqaba

Scuba diving top attraction

Tourism on the rise in Jordan's Red Sea resort Aqaba

Rome, June 20 - The Red Sea city of Aqaba has attracted visitors for centuries, but only recently have developers set their sites on making Jordan's port location an even bigger draw for tourism and business travellers. Located a stone's throw away from the Petra archeological site and Wadi Rum, also known as The Valley of the Moon, and a 26-minute boat ride to Egypt, Aqaba attracted over 480,000 tourists in 2012. Easily accessible to the Middle East, Asia and Europe, since 2010 approximately 100,000 Italians travelled to Aqaba, local authorities said. While there is no end to activities and entertainment, "diving should be high on the list, Jordanian architect, professor and Head Commissioner of ASEZA (Aqaba Special Economic Zone) Kamel O. Mahadin tells ANSA. "There are crash courses for shallow-water diving and 47 different companies to choose from. It is the best way to see the coral reef and 20% of diving fees goes to preserving the environment," Mahadin says. In 2012, scuba diving was a main tourism attraction in Aqaba with over 25,000 international divers visiting the over 10 diving sites. There was also a noticeable increase of charter flights. Some 1,235 flights carrying 47,781 tourists and 143 cruise ships carrying 78,964 tourists reached Aqaba. While hotel capacity reached 35% in 2012, some 179,254 tourists flocked to the Wadi Rum on day trips. With the growing tourism sector in Aqaba comes the demand for labor, with 2,500 employees added to hotel staff in 2012.

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