On French tourism to Jordan

Submitted by munir on Mon, 02/19/2024 - 09:19

At the invitation of officials of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France and the supervision of the Jordan Tourism Board, I have had the honor to participate, along with the Ms. Samia Nustas, who is responsible for the tourism file at the Jordan embassy in Paris, in the international days of the tourist city of Lourdes, located in southwestern France next to the heavily snow-covered Pyrenees Mountains.


Despite the extremely cold weather and the heavy rain,  some 15,000 pilgrims came to mark the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, including about a thousand directors of Christian pilgrimages from France and  the various parts of the world. We were extremely proud when Jordan was named as the guest of honor for this comprehensive annual meeting. This is attributed to two reasons. The first one is that Jordan is a holy land, and consequently it is one of the first and largest countries to include Christian pilgrimage sites following Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth. The second reason is that the touristic functionaries in our beloved country--led by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities as well as the Jordan Tourism Board—has warmly welcomed a number of French guests last year and early this year while holding firm contacts with them in order to support French tourism to Jordan which occasionally enjoys the support of the French embassy in Jordan. Among the most important of these visits is a pilgrimage visit undertaken by Bishop of French Diocese of Tabes and Lourdes  Jean Marc Micas,  who was accompanied by a number of journalists who wrote articles in a number of major French newspapers in April 2023 about Holy Jordan, and the international conference organized by the Ouvre d'orient about Francophonie in the East in June 2023. However, the most important event was holding of the General Assembly of the French directors of the Christian Pilgrimage Institution marking its 75th anniversary in November 2023. The sessions were held amidst numerous hesitations due to the war erupting in Gaza. Yet, it took place indeed and it was one of the historic days which opens the way broadly with great momentum for pilgrimage trips, God willing.


In fulfillment of the noble Jordanian hospitality and generosity, Jordan was considered as the only guest country of honor this year. This is a source of honor that makes us happy, as it deepens our self-confidence, and plans to welcome more pilgrims from France and various parts of the world. Following the warm welcome accorded by the participants, I personally and Ms. Samia were given the opportunity to express views in the opening sessions and to reassure the pilgrimage managers in the West that Jordan is a country of peace and stability, and that they can conduct extensive pilgrimage trips to Jordan, despite the fact that the war on Gaza pains us and made us  confine this Christmas celebrations to religious rites.


However, Jordan--with its pioneering leadership in international diplomacy, in uniting the people, as well as in forwarding humanitarian and medical aid in order to support the Palestinian people's steadfastness--continues its noble endeavors in hosting delegations of pilgrims from various countries of the world. I told them in the grand hall of celebration: "Fear not! Come to Jordan, it is a country of dialogue, stability and peace! You will not regret it, as you will acquire the desired spiritual experience, and you will return to your countries as ambassadors of Jordan.


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Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader