wtten-n.world-After initial anger at the Victoria College School for going ahead with the excursion despite storm forecasts, the focus of media and politicians has now turned to the company that organised the trip and other operators catering to Jordan’s increasingly popular adventure tourism sector.
Both the school and the tour company, Creativity Zone-Jordan Echo, have been shut after the tragedy last Thursday, when flash floods caused by heavy rains swept through the Wadi Zarqa Maeen near the Dead Sea.
According to official sources, the upscale school in West Amman will remain closed until the government decides next week whether to shut it permanently — affecting hundreds of pupils — or allow it to reopen after replacing its administration. School officials sent the children south-west to the Dead Sea area despite informing the education ministry that the trip was to Azraq in the Eastern desert, and placed 37 children and seven chaperones on the bus when the permit allowed for only 30.
Creativity Zone-Jordan Echo, meanwhile, has been referred to the prosecutor general, also for failing to comply with regulations, Tourism Minister Lina Annab told MPs in a meeting on Sunday, the local daily Ad Dustour reported.
It is not yet clear whether the company was specifically licensed for adventure tours, and exactly what regulations are in place to govern the sector in Jordan.
Adventure and ecotourism is a niche but growing sector of Jordan’s tourism industry, which has only recently rebounded from a seven-year downturn sparked by the Arab Uprising and the war in neighbouring Syria. Tourism generated revenue of US$4.6 billion (Dh16.9bn) in 2017 and is expected to surpass that this year, generating $3.6bn in the first eight months alone.
Several local tour companies and groups have sprung up to offer visitors and citizens activities such as rock climbing and hikes through the kingdom’s scenic wadis, gorges and rolling hills. The international award-winning Jordan Trail — a 40-day, 600-kilometre trek from the north to south, passing through canyons, mountain ranges and local communities along the way — has been praised by hikers from all over the world.