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The Obama administration is working to give the tourism industry in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan another financial boost, even though a leading industry association already envisions tremendous growth there.

The plan is for a multimillion-dollar infusion of U.S. taxpayer funds to strengthen the hospitality sector through work that is planned to continue for years after Obama leaves the White House.

The World Travel & Tourism Council anticipates Jordan will continue to see significant growth in its tourism sector this year, followed by tremendous growth over the next decade, according to a nation-specific report released earlier this year. The projected growth exceeds what the council expects for other regional tourist destinations such as Israel and Egypt.

Nonetheless, the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, deems it necessary to spend an additional $36.1 million over the next five years to “increase economic growth and job creation in Jordan’s tourism sector.”

According to an award document discovered via routine database research, USAID awarded the contract to Chemonics International Inc., one of the federal government’s largest dollar-wise recipients of government contracts.

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WND earlier this year similarly discovered that USAID dumped millions into an initiative to create a new bakery and pastry skills vocational program in the Jordanian city of Irbid. The agency justified awarding the sole-source, no-bid contract to Chemonics due to regional instability caused by military incursions across neighboring states by ISIS, among other factors.

While USAID steps up its efforts to strengthen Jordan’s hospitality industry, simultaneously a separate agency that endeavors to steer pilgrims away from Israel and into Palestinian lands nears the mid-point of its third year.

As WND reported in 2011, USAID launched the Enterprise Development for Global Competitiveness, or EDGC, project, among whose aims is to get Israel-bound tourists to spend more time visiting Palestinian-controlled historic sites and commercial zones.

Indeed, just days before the Obama administration alerted contractors to that endeavor, Hamas militants were raining rockets on Israeli civilians.

One of EDGC’s goals is to get pilgrims to stay longer – and thereby spend more money – in Palestinian territory rather than in Israel. Palestinian agriculture, information technology, and marble and stone industries also receive support under the $58 million initiative.

USAID in early 2012 awarded a three-year, $35 million contract with a two-year, $23 million option period to Development Alternatives Inc., or DAI.

The agency’s Office of the Inspector General that same year conducted an audit of the program, issuing several criticisms and recommendations for program changes.

The audit, however, did not scrutinize USAID’s attempts to steer tourists away from Israel.

Rather, it pointed out the contractor’s absence of a gender-equality plan – despite the fact that DAI was not required to create one under the project statement of work – as well as an inadequate environmental-protection component.

Other global activities

USAID wants to “co‐create, co‐design, co‐ invest and collaborate” with other institutions on projects that will enable Libya “to responsibly utilize its own human, financial, and natural resources for the benefit of its citizens.”

The agency recently issued a Broad Agency Announcement seeking proposals and concept papers that could help USAID achieve that development goal in Libya. It did not disclose an estimated cost.

USAID has arranged for the distribution of 600 to 1,200 books to each of 11,000 Indonesian primary schools. The agency awarded a $6 million contract to StratComm Inc., to carry out the project.

Reducing “the likelihood of extremism” among Pakistanis is the goal of USAID’s Punjab Youth WorkForce Development Project. USAID said in a recently released call for bids on the $10 million to $15 million program. The project’s objective is to reduce extremism “by increasing stability in targeted areas through engagement of productive economic activities focusing on the youth.”

Also, an Iranian comedian is being sought by the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, whose Office of Persian News Network wants to secure the rights to distribute “Iranian-American comedy sketches” via its Persian-language programming.

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