The excavated remains of the baptism site in "Bethany Beyond the Jordan", in modern-day Jordan. (Wikipedia)
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Jordan, home to many Islamic and Christian holy sites, hopes a visit this month by Pope Francis will promote religious tourism and boost an industry hit hard by regional turmoil.Pope Francis visits the Holy Land on May 24-26 with the first stop in Jordan, home to 7 million people including about 200,000 Christians, more or less evenly split between Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox.Jordan features three sites of great potential interest to Christians, including Wadi al-Kharrar, or Bethany Beyond the Jordan, where some biblical historians believe Jesus was baptized and began his public ministry.Excavation in what had been a minefield separating Jordan and Israel only began in 1996, two years after the two countries signed a peace treaty.Jordan is also hoping to attract tourists from other Muslim countries.Religious tourism tends to draw middle and higher income visitors over 50 but Jordan is expensive for younger people, Arabiat said.
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