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A Surprisingly Cool Desert in Summer

community-based-tourism-hero MEDA - A Surprisingly Cool Desert in Summer

Feynan Ecolodge Launches New Summer Cooling Measures

Wadi Araba, Feb. 5 – At the southwestern edge of Dana Biosphere Reserve in one of the poverty pockets in Jordan, sits Feynan Ecolodge that not only provides a place for tourists to explore southern Jordan or an escape for Jordanians from the hustle of the city; but an environmentally friendly run lodge that provides a chance for the local community to run sustainable businesses.

Hailed by National Geographic Traveler as one of the best 25 ecolodges in the world, and run with minimal impact on the environment, Feynan is not connected to the electricity grid, but generates its own electricity through solar/photovoltaic (PV) panels. Today, Feynan officially launched a new 25 KHWp PV system capable of generating over 120 KWh daily, 6 times more than the previous system.

The Ecolodge is the first of its kind in Jordan. It was constructed in 2005 by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) and since 2009 has been managed and operated by EcoHotels. It is designed to operate in harmony with its habitat and is operated in a way which minimizes the impact of tourism on the surrounding natural environment. It is the most advanced ‘eco’ accommodation in Jordan and employs a wide range of different technologies and programs aimed at leaving the smallest possible environmental foot- print.

The new solar/photovoltaic PV system, which is funded by Global Affairs Canada and MEDA, now produces enough electricity to power new fans in all bedrooms and common areas. With the additional fridges/freezers and other cooling measures, the lodge is now able to operate in the hot summer months, thus becoming a year-round destination. This will help the lodge boost its activities in the slow summer season allowing guests to have a comfortable sleep and access to cold water and drinks throughout their stays.

“With this system, we are helping boost tourism in a remote, underdeveloped and untapped area where the lodge can now operate around the year and not only during winter”, says Ahsan Ul Haque Helal, MEDA’s Country Project Director in Jordan. “Through our pro- ject, the Jordan Valley Links, the program will empower women and youth to be the hosts for tourism and tourists in their villages. The program also aims to create a sustainable tourism model in areas like Feynan to stimulate economic growth and protect cultural herit- age and natural resources,” adds Helal.

The lodge offers the local Bedouin communities much needed economic opportunities. Feynan employs all its staff from the local com- munities surrounding the Dana Biosphere Reserve. This helps create the uniquely authentic atmosphere in the lodge, while generating much needed income for surrounding communities. In addition, the candle-making and leather workshops on site give four women and a man in the community the opportunity to work to help support their families and showcase their art.

Feynan also sources services from the local community through partnerships which provide supplemental income for locals. For exam- ple, local drivers provide shuttle services to and from the lodge in their own pickups in their free time, food supply is purchased locally from the nearby village, and the bread served at the lodge is supplied by a local Bedouin woman, Um Khalid, who bakes the bread from her family tent.

“We are very grateful to Global Affairs Canada and MEDA for their support”, said Nabil Tarazi, Founder & Managing Director of Eco- Hotels. “Being able to provide a comfortable stay for our guests during the summer months will increase their numbers and lengthens their stays which in turn will have a tremendous positive impact on over 80 local community families that currently benefit from the lodge either as employees or service providers. This will also allow us now to seek new partnerships with other community members to help develop their businesses in the tourism sector.”