May 18, 2009

Petra Entrance Fee Inflation
Umm Sayhun, Jordan

The ticket prices for Petra have been steadily climbing—sometimes leaping—for the past 20 years. Unable to find any resource that was keeping track of the cost for historical trending purposes, I've decided to compile a general timeline from my own research.

Sometime the early 1990s (not long after the 1989 release of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), the Jordanian government realized they had a tourism goldmine on their hands and dramatically increased Petra's entrance fee from a mere one Jordanian dinar to 20 for a one-day visit—a jump from approximately $1.40 USD to a whopping $28.50.

This puts the ticket price in a league with Disney World. Two days cost $38; three or more days cost $45. Some economist whispered in their ear that they need to charge what the market will bear …and 5,000 people per day still fork over the money. This sort of thing is happening all around the globe. If inflation has doubled prices since the 1980s, prices at tourist sites have gone up threefold, fivefold, tenfold or in this case twentyfold.
Dean Oman, December 1999

Thanks to the archival work/sharing provided by Google Books I was able to dig back over the past decade and peek into what some of the guidebooks were printing, as well as dating blog posts (like the one above) and photos of the admission prices table that's affixed next to the ticketing window.

Approximate historical admission fees for Petra

Note: Since October 1995, the dinar has been officially pegged to the IMF's Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). In practice, it's fixed at 1 U.S. dollar = 0.709 dinar most of the time, which translates to approximately 1 dinar = 1.41044 dollars.

Jordan Handbook: The Travel Guide. Footprint Travel Guides, 2000

  • 1-Day Ticket: JD20 ($28)
  • 2-Day Ticket: JD25 ($35)
  • 3-Day Ticket: JD30 ($42)

As of the year 2000, purchasing a three-day ticket entitled you to receive a fourth day's visit for free. Children under 12 years of age paid half the (adult) ticket price. There were no discounts for students (although apparently at some point in the 1990s there was free admission for students of archeology with an accompanying letter from the Ministry of Tourism in Amman).

Rough Guide to Jordan. Rough Guides, 2002

  • 1-Day Ticket: JD21 ($30)
  • 2-Day Ticket: JD26 ($37)
  • 3-Day Ticket: JD31 ($44)

As of 2002, a three-day ticket still entitled you to receive a fourth day's visit for free. Children under 12 years of age paid half the (adult) ticket price. There were no student discounts. Jordanians and foreigners with residency paid one dinar to enter the site.

2004 Temporary Price Cut

Dramatically reduced entrance fees in 2004 [source]

  • 1-Day Ticket: JD11 ($16)
  • 2-Day Ticket: JD13.50 ($19)
  • 3-Day Ticket: JD16 ($23)
  • 1-Day Student Ticket: JD6 ($9)
  • 2-Day Student Ticket: JD7.25 ($10)
  • 3-Day Student Ticket: JD8.50 ($12)

It took quite a bit of digging to uncover a dated explanation for a photo that displayed drastically reduced admission prices with the new inclusion of a student discount.

It would seem that from May 2004[source] until January 2005 ticket prices to enter Petra were reduced by approximately 50%. According to a blog entry from 2004 (in Spanish, below), this was a response to boost tourism during the slump brought on by the September 11th terrorist attacks the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

La entrada a Petra cuesta 11 JD un día, 13'5 JD dos días y 16 JD tres días (estos precios suponen una reducción del 50% respecto de los precios oficiales, impuesta por el gobierno para intentar atajar la crisis turística tras los atentados del 11-S y la guerra de Irak, y aunque esta situación puede cambiar en el futuro, la verdad es que el bolsillo del viajero agradece esta rebaja).
Viaje a Jordania/Perta, 2004

The driver who took us to the site told us that we shall pay 1 JD for each Iraqi visitor and 11 JD for the American visitor as an entrance fee.
Omar, October 2004

The year 2004 also found the incorporation of student discounts (of 50%) into Petra's pricing structure. Receiving 50% off the discounted tickets started up that May was the best deal seen at the site since the dramatic price increases of the early 90s.

2005 Petra admission fees [source]

2005 Change of Heart

  • 1-Day Ticket: JD21 ($30)
  • 2-Day Ticket: JD26 ($37)
  • 3-Day Ticket: JD31 ($44)
  • 1-Day Student Ticket: JD10.50 ($15)
  • 2-Day Student Ticket: JD13 ($18)
  • 3-Day Student Ticket: JD15.50 ($22)

By the end of 2004 someone at the Ministry of Tourism had clearly decided the revenue loss from the 50%-off discount wasn't worth the (likely negligible) gains in tourism numbers, and the original pricing structure was restored in January 2005[source]. The popular inclusion of a 50% student discount remained intact.

Children Free

At some point between 2003 and 2006 the Jordanian Ministry of Tourism pleasantly loosened its grip on entry fees for children. The admission for a child was now free of charge (as opposed to half-off the adult price), and the applicable age increased three years to qualify youth under age 15 (whereas previously it was up to age 12).

Middle East: Jordan, 5th Edition. Lonely Planet, April 2006

Jordan, 6th Edition. Lonely Planet, April 2006

This edition of the Lonely Planet specifically mentions how to obtain a seemingly unlimited number of days in Petra, provided that you purchase a 3-day pass and instruct the ticketing office to place a stamp on the additional (handwritten) dates to be noted on the back.

Also note that the text of this edition has updated the new child admission age from 12 to 15, but did not update the fee.

2007 Student Discount Discontinued

In 2007 Ministry of Tourism decided to axe the general student discount in Petra[source]—likely because of the copious amounts of falsified IDs available to and used by younger travelers. Instead, the discount was restricted to only students holding a Jordanian university ID. The cost of entry was reduced to one dinar for these individuals.

May 2009

  • 1-Day Ticket: JD21 ($30)
  • 2-Day Ticket: JD26 ($37)
  • 3-Day Ticket: JD31 ($44)
  • 1-Day Ticket for a Jordanian University Student: JD1 ($1.40)
  • Children Under Age 15: Free

Jordan, 7th Edition. Lonely Planet, May 2009

2010 Dramatic Admission Fee Increase

A plan for a radical increase of the cost of admission was put in place for 2010 in an attempt to capitalize on tourists visiting Petra who entering into Jordan from cruise ships in the Red Sea (via Aqaba) and visitors who cross into the country on day trips (from Eilat, Israel) and don't spend the night (or apparently enough money) in the country.

[source]

Petra entrance fees as of November 1st:

  • 1-Day Ticket: JD50 ($71) …previously $30
  • 2-Day Ticket: JD57 ($80) …previously $37
  • 3-Day Ticket: JD60 ($85) …previously $44
  • 1-Day Ticket for Transit Visa Tourist: JD90 ($127) …previously $30
  • 1-Day Ticket for a Jordanian University Student: JD1 ($1.40)
  • Children Under Age 15: Free

Almost everybody will be asked to justify their stay in Jordan at the time of ticket purchase, either by showing their passport or by evidence of a hotel stay.

There has been talk for some time of making the Siq one way and bringing visitors back by car from the back entrance by Umm Sayhun. I suspect that this is one of the innovations planned for November which would explain the huge increase in price. This would be unpopular with a lot of visitors as well as the locals selling things, since many people like to take their time coming back and take photos along the way.
Ruth, January 2010

In theory, even higher ticket prices would keep enough tourists away to maintain site sustainability without sacrificing profits or enforcing visitor-limit caps. Bad news for budget travelers, though.

I've a good feeling that Jordan's Department of Antiquities has warned that the increasing number of visitors poses a threat to the archaeological site, and are attempting to find a price point that will maximize revenue while keeping tourist numbers in check. Perhaps they think this financial elitism is a better method than simply capping the number of tickets eligible to be sold for a given day.

Frankly, I find the costs outrageous.

Updated: In case you had any doubts regarding the (generally sickening) moneymaking machine that the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has created in Petra, read these Q1-Q2 2010 statistics:

  • 462,000 tourists visited the ancient Nabataean city in the January–June period, compared to 325,000 in the same period in 2009, a 42% increase.
  • Tourism revenues at the site have risen by 46% since the beginning of the year, amounting to JD9.1 million (US$12.8 million), up from JD6.2 million ($8.7 million) during the same period last year.

Readers: If you have any corrections or contributions of your own you'd like to make to this timeline, please note them in the comments section below.

Comments:

The Philippines

Dave from The Longest Way Home

August 19th, 2010

Very good article.

I agree, the fees here are astonishingly high.

I agree such sites should be protected. But not by increasing fees that will stop so many middle income tourists.

Yes, I can't believe I just said middle income tourists.

But bit tour agencies and the people that frequent them are adding to this. Package holidays are easy options, and easy to administer from Petra's point of view.

So, they've gone for it and increased all the prices.

They might have tried increasing package only fees, but I'd say the pressure from the tour companies would have been too much.

Such a shame. I see this getting worse the world over. UNESCO don't help matters at all. Name a place world heritage, and the whole place is over run with tourists and profit makers too.

Greece is a good example of this, and how it is now suffering from tourist overrun and disillusion with what they were expecting

Jordan

Miguel

October 30th, 2010

Backpackers are suffering because of the greed from the Jordanian government. Ta.

Israel and the Palestinian Territories

Tim

December 17th, 2012

I was just at Petra. I crossed the border (from Israel) without first investigating the Petra fees. I ended up spending seven days in Jordan, and spent many hundreds of JDs. However, had I know — before hand — how much the Jordanian Tourist Ministry was charging for Petra, I would NOT have chosen to cross the border (and Jordan tourist businesses would not have received my many hundreds of JDs spent). My advice to others is to seriously consider whether Petra is worth it, and "vote with your feet" and decide to NOT visit Jordan until they "get real" and lower these outrageous fees.

The United States

sam

June 13th, 2013

Was in Petra in 1996 and, while very fascinating, it is not worth what they're charging. Was in Machu Pichu in 1999 and am scared to death to find what they charge to enter that site now. Was in Tikal (Guatemala) in 2004 and returned four years later in 2008 to find admission prices had tripled. Too many of these poor countries gouge foreigners. It's a scam. One of the posters got it right, vote with your wallet and don't pay these ridiculously outrageous prices.

Note: Comments are open to everyone. To reduce spam and reward regular contributors, only submissions from first-time commenters and/or those containing hyperlinks are moderated, and will appear after approval. Hateful or off-topic remarks are subject to pruning. Your e-mail address will never be publicly disclosed or abused.