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People dip themselves in Jordan River at the Qasr el-Yahud site, near Jericho

Jordan Eyes Tourism Bonanza, in Expansion of Jesus' Baptism Site

For centuries, thousands of pilgrims a year have made the journey to Bethany Beyond The Jordan, a site on the east bank of the Jordan River, which Christians believe to be the exact spot where Jesus was baptized.

This number could swell to one million visitors a year if a proposed phased six-year estimated $300 million project for a 'tourist city' adjacent to what is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site goes ahead.

Among those who gathered at the river bank two weeks ago were Jordan's King Abdullah and Lebanon's Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, who joined architects, museum curators and investors to hear about the proposal from its organizers.

Organizers hope that with souvenir shops and walking trails, boutique hotels and botanical gardens, the site - which lies outside the formal boundary of the baptism location - will eventually attract five times as many annual visitors than the current 200,000, and will help preserve the region's dwindling Christian presence.

The project still needs funding, however, and planners are presenting their plans to Christian leaders from all denominations from the Middle East and beyond, in the hope it will help draw donors, investors and contributing churches. (JPost / VFI News)

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” - Romans 6:4

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