Make your own Mansaf! Expat tour operator wins National Geographic award by giving vacationers a hands on experience of Jordan
Sometimes a vacation can feel like hard work. All that rushing around, arranging locations and most importantly, no proper time to explore your destination.
A Jordan tour operator has taken a different approach to how it works with tourists, earning it a top award in the process.
Engaging Cultures Travel’s 10-day “Jordan Insider” tour has been selected as one of National Geographic Travelers magazine’s 50 Tours of a Lifetime in 2014.
“We are thrilled and honored to be included for the first time on this prestigious list,” says Jon Killpack, Engaging Cultures Travel’s co-founder.
“We continue to be radically changed by interacting deeply with real people from a dramatically different culture than our own. That is what we want others to experience when they travel with us.
“Not just to tick a new country off their bucket list, but to start to see the world with new eyes. Have a paradigm shift over a cup of tea.”
Founded by American expats, Engaging Cultures Travel carefully crafted the 10-day tour so clients can truly bond with their hosts in different ways. From learning how to cook traditional Jordanian cuisine “mansaf” in local homes to hearing tales from a Bedouin during a hike through Wadi Rum, allowing visitors to get a realistic taste of Jordanian culture.
Regional tensions in neighboring countries put a strain on Jordan’s tourism sector with a 13 percent decline of visitors in 2013.
Post revolutionary power struggles from former tourist hotspots Tunisia and Egypt were also damaging for the sector as the Middle East was taken off the itinerary, with many tourists opting for other destinations instead. Jordan recently doubling entry visa fees didn't help either.
The Jordanian tourism minister however, is investing in 2014 to bring back tourists with various initiatives such as “Meditation Tourism,” which was a joint venture between the Jordan Society of Tourism and Travel Agents and Jordan Mediation Club. The project is also support by Thailand.
“This year marks the 30th anniversary of National Geographic Traveler, which has always looked at the world through the lens of culture, nature, and history,” said Norie Quintos, executive editor of National Geographic Traveler magazine.
“The tours we selected go beyond destination to add meaning and context. They open the mind to new possibilities, new connections, new ways of thinking—all critically important given the world’s complex issues.”
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