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Cicerone authors Tony Howard and Di Taylor make a big impact in Jordan

Cicerone authors Di Taylor and Tony Howard were thanked by the Jordan Trail Association for helping Jordan win a highly prestigious World Travel Award at the 2018 World Travel Mart.

Back in 1984 four climbers, Mick Shaw, Alan Baker, Di Taylor and Tony Howard, went out to Jordan. Tony and Di had just seen David Lean’s epic film, Lawrence of Arabia and were keen to check out the climbing in the awesome desert mountains of Wadi Rum from where Lawrence and the Bedouin raided the Turks and where much of the film took place. What they found was world class. Furthermore the local Bedouin who welcomed them to the valley already had their own unique quality climbs created when hunting the mountain ibex.

In 1987 Tony's first guide to Treks and Climbs in Wadi Rum was published and Di and Tony started to explore the rest of Jordan, which was still unknown from the point of view of adventure tourism. HM Queen Noor provided a palace car and driver and ten years later their guide to Jordan's Walks, Treks, Caves, Climbs and Canyons was published also by Cicerone Press. Both guides have since been updated.

A few years later at the request of villagers in the north they also wrote a guide to Walks, Treks, Caves & Climbs,Al Ayoun, in north Jordan. The book was sponsored by a Jordanian philanthropist, Fadi Ghandour, and is available in Jordan. HM King Abdullah 11 wrote to them saying, “Your support in introducing adventure tourism in Jordan is deeply appreciated”.

By then they had an even bigger project in mind, the creation of a country length Jordan Trail. Initially based on Cicerone’s Jordan Treks guidebook, but with the addition of new treks plus treks created by Jordanian friends, the trail would eventually cross the country from the Syrian border in the north to reach the Red Sea south of the port of Aqaba. In 2015, together with their friends, Tony and Di completed exploration of what became a 600km 40 day trail though forests, canyons, deserts and mountains and unique world class archaeological sites such as Petra. The Jordan Trail Association (JTA) was formed to train guides, waymark the route and identify homestays, camps and hotels along the way plus, of course create a website.

In the following two years, 2016 and 17, $6 million of income was generated along the trail in the 52 villages and a section of the trail was listed in the world's top ten by National Geographic. Then, at the World Travel Mart in London in November 2018 the JTA received the highly acclaimed World Travel Award. Furthermore, Jordan's tourism had become so successful, partly as a result of the success of adventure tourism kickstarted by Tony and Di’s guidebooks, that it received an award from Lonely Planet guides for being in the Top Ten countries to visit. Tony and Di were there at both occasions and were thanked by the CEO of the JTA, Bashir Daoud for their invaluable input.