Holiday celebrations in Madaba will begin this weekend when the Madaba Tourism Development and Heritage Preservation Association (TDHPA) holds its annual Christmas festival.
The event, which will run this Friday and the next, will include Christmas carols, a bazaar and other activities, according to TDHPA Chairman Charl Al Twal.
"Last year's event was really successful. The festival attracted visitors from across the city and beyond because it was diverse and included a bazaar, and musical and dance performances," he told The Jordan Times in a recent interview.
"Madaba residents are friendly and they interact well with visitors to our festivals and projects. This also helps attract tourists," Twal said.
He indicated that the festival is one of a number of activities and projects the association has organised since it was formed five years ago with the goal of transforming Madaba into a major tourist attraction. "When former tourism minister Akel Biltaji visited the city of Madaba, he recommended establishing an association to promote tourism in the city, so we worked hard to make the dream come true," the TDHPA chairman said.
Since then, the association has drawn up numerous plans to attract visitors to the city.
"We have published a tourism guide in three languages: English, Spanish and French,” Twal elaborated. These guides, which are made available to tourism offices in Amman, include popular historical sites in the city, restaurants and other places to visit.
The association also publishes a magazine called "Visit Madaba" that includes articles about the city’s attractions.
With support from different organisations, the TDHPA has also hosted several workshops for the local community to teach them useful crafts.
Twal credited the association’s work with helping to greatly increase tourism in Madaba.
"In 2000, the city received 37,000 visitors, while in 2010, the number grew to 400,000," he noted.
The association's future plans focus on enticing Amman residents to visit the nearby town on weekends, he said.
"We will provide them with a great opportunity to visit Madaba and have fun with their friends," Twal explained, adding that the association will start distributing tourist guides in Arabic to schools and universities and promote their projects through social networking websites.
He added that the association has other ambitions for the future but is limited in terms of funding.
"For example, we are thinking of setting up a tourism office at the [Queen Alia International] airport and providing a bus to transport visitors. At the office, we will provide tourists with information about Madaba and then transport them to the city," he said.