Building Bridges of Faith: An engaging interview with Rustom Mkhjian on Jordan’s Baptism Site

Unveiling Jordan’s baptism site’s significance, the insightful interview with Rustom Mkhjian highlights interfaith harmony and future collaborations in religious tourism.

Religious and pilgrimage tourism is estimated to move more than 300 million faithful tourists, to pilgrimage travel, to visiting religious sites, to engaging in religious significance events and celebrations. The Holy Land, in the Middle East covering areas in three countries: Jordan, Israel and Palestine, is one of the most visited religious areas.

On the occasion of an official visit of a high-level Jordanian Delegation in Greece, as part of the formal exchanges of collaboration between the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece Synodical Office for Pilgrimage Tours and the Jordanian Ministry of Tourism, Travel Daily News Media Network was honored with an engaging interview with Engineer Mr. Rustom Mkhjian, General Director of the Baptism Site Commission of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on Jordan’s Jesus Baptism Site. Unveiling Jordan’s Baptism Site’s significance, this insightful interview with Rustom Mkhjian, among other aspects, highlights interfaith harmony and future collaborations in religious tourism.

Engineer Rustom Mkhjian revealed fascinating details about the site’s cultural, religious, and historical importance. The conversation, taking place in Athens, offered a profound glimpse into the stewardship of one of Christianity’s most sacred sites: the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ, Bethany beyond the Jordan.

Mr. Mkhjian, explains that the Baptism Site Commission is an independent Board of Trustees appointed by H.M. King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, and H.R.H. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad chairs the Commission, and articulated the Jordanian Royal Family’s dedication to preserving Christian heritage, emphasizing their role in maintaining the authenticity and spirituality of the site.

Further, he highlighted the site’s historical churches, noting the peaceful coexistence of different religious faiths in Jordan, a sentiment echoed by His Eminence, Christophoros, Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Jordan and Head of the Council of Church Leaders in Jordan.

The interview describes also, the Jordanian Delegation’s and Mr. Mkhjian’s current visit to Greece, marked by significant meetings with church leaders and representatives from the Jordanian and Greek tourism sectors which is supported by the Memorandum of Understanding, which has been signed between the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece Synodical Office for Pilgrimage Tours and the Jordanian Ministry of Tourism, and is bolstering religious tourism and cultural exchanges between the two nations.

This collaboration is expected to be further enhanced at the special event at the Baptism Site, in January 2024, celebrating the Silver Jubilee of His Majesty’s reign and the Epiphany at the Baptism Site, expecting a large international congregation.

Addressing concerns about safety, Mr. Mkhjian assured the audience of Jordan’s security, recounting recent successful events that hosted numerous tourists and operators, which have reinforced Jordan’s status as a safe and welcoming destination. He also shared impressive visitor statistics, indicating a significant rise in pilgrim and tourist numbers, reflecting the site’s growing global appeal.

In a broader context, the conversation touches also, upon anticipated educational collaborations, with plans for student exchanges between Aristotle University in Thessaloniki and Jordanian universities. This initiative aims to enhance cultural and academic ties, further strengthening the bridges of understanding and cooperation between Greece and Jordan.

This interview, rich in detail and depth, offers travel and hospitality professionals a unique perspective on the intersections of faith, heritage, and tourism, highlighting Jordan’s pivotal role in the tapestry of global religious tourism.

Christos Petreas

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