Somehow the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA) got it backwards. I’m not sure how, but they lost sight of a key concept. In Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner’s character keeps hearing a voice whisper, “If you build it, they will come.” So, he builds it (a baseball field) and people from miles around come to watch the games of famous baseball greats (or their ghosts, but who is splitting hairs on this) play pick up games. Regardless, the concept in generally sound, you need to build it (whatever “it” is in your field) before people will come. I don’t care if “it” is a building, a software product, a game, or a bridge, people aren’t overly likely to pay for whatever it is you are selling until it’s built.
Unfortunately, last year the PDTRA upped the price for visitors to Petra from abroad to a whopping 50 JDs (more if you aren’t staying in a local hotel as I understood it). The reason (excuse) they gave was that they would be providing tourists with new additional services. However, the Jordan Time reported yesterday (read it here), that may visitors are expressing dissatisfaction with the lack of and poor quality of services. Somehow the grand services promised have turned into lackluster port-a-potties. The guide is not like a guide per group, but rather a tour guide feel with 20 people per group.
The article quotes a local investor saying that “the new facilities were supposed to be introduced in March 2011 and they included providing tourists with a guide, a bus to transport them from the end of Petra to the entrance, and a souvenir for each tourist.” Maybe (just maybe) that would be worth the better than doubling of the entrance fee. But, to add port-a-potties (maybe I just EWWWWWWW) and a group tour guide doesn’t really support more than doubling the fee. So why, I ask you, did they increase the fee long before they were ready to offer the services?
They need to go back to that basic principle… if you build it, they will come. It’s not if you charge them for it when they come, you can build it so others will come. There’s a reason for that. Sigh. Here’s hoping that the Petra guys get their act together and match 5 star service to the now 5 star price of admission. If they don’t, I’m afraid New 7 Wonder or not, people will stop visiting Petra. Because after all, no one wants to feel cheated, least of all by the authorities of the site they are visiting.