Building on the economic momentum generated by Jordan’s growing tourism sector over recent years, USAID SCHEP has worked to support local actors seeking to develop their own enterprises to manage and benefit from their cultural heritage. By the end of SCHEP’ first phase in 2018, we had supported the establishment of four local Micro & Small Enterprises (MSEs) at SCHEP sites. These local initiatives will manage cultural heritage resources and develop tourism products and experiences, attracting new visitors and providing income and employment opportunities for the local community.
In Aqaba, Busayra, Ghawr as Safi, and Umm al Jimal, former SCHEP partners and site stewards are now leading their own initiatives and continuing the work that SCHEP started. By connecting cultural heritage to real economic opportunity, SCHEP is able to achieve more significant and sustainable engagement with local communities, enabling them to become partners in preservation.
SCHEP has worked with organizations like the Jordan Inbound Tour Operators Association (JITOA) and Visit Jordan to introduce tour operators to the lesser known sites and produce materials that inform curious potential visitors to what they have to offer. The first phase of the project also offered training sessions and workshops on site promotion, offering local stakeholders the knowledge and skills they need to turn their local sites into national and international destinations.
During its extension phase (2018-2022), SCHEP will continue to emphasize sustainable tourism as a way to build economic stability, supporting local institutions, organizations, and communities through start up grants, capacity building, vocational training, product development, and marketing for sustainable tourism of Jordan’s CHRs.
Support for tourism MSEs is not the only way SCHEP works to support economic growth and stability through employment. Since its inception, SCHEP has endeavored both to create new opportunities for employment at its partner sites and to improve the type and quality of employment for CHR host communities. As of 2020, SCHEP sites and supported projects have generated 300 employment opportunities in rural and underserved areas, including 134 opportunities for those living in poverty pockets or with high refugee populations.
SCHEP maintains a focus on youth and female employment, in response to especially high unemployment rates among both of these groups throughout Jordan, but especially in rural areas.