Friday, August 22, 2008

Major progress reported in building Jordan's Baptism Site 2008-08-20 14:42:06
AMMAN, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- Jordan's tourist authorities has made major headway in efforts to build the Baptism Site, where Jesus was said to be baptized, into a global pilgrimage destination, local daily The Jordan Times reported on Wednesday.
"The infrastructure work for the Russian Pilgrimage House, the Roman Catholic Church on the east bank of the Jordan River as well as the Greek Orthodox monastery have been completed and others are on track as planned," Baptism Site Commission Director Dia Madani said.
At least five more churches representing various Christian denominations are set to be established this year, including the Coptic, Armenian, Syrian and Ethiopian churches, according to Madani.
"Once the churches are built and monks and priests settle in, the entire concept of the site will be transformed from a historically important site to a leading destination for Christian pilgrimage," Madani said, adding that the site will be open 20 hours a day and offer facilities for pilgrims who choose to spend the night.
According to the official, the site is growing steadily in prominence among tourists and pilgrims, citing figures that tourist arrivals has climbed to 108,000 in the first seven months of this year, an increase of 99 percent from a year ago.
The official expects the site to attract up to half-a-million visitors annually in three years.

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