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Jordan tourism is trying to promote itself as a stable, safe destination while there's so much unrest swirling around it in places like Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Highlighting attractions that don't get as much publicity as they should is the tourism board's formula here.

Italian star tenor Andrea Bocelli made a pilgrimage to the traditional site of Jesus’ baptism Monday, praying for peace as he stood on the edge of the River Jordan.

Bocelli, 58, who is blind, was guided by a priest who scooped up river water and poured it over Bocelli’s hands. The artist, a Catholic, made a sign of the cross and the priest recited the Ave Maria (Hail Mary) prayer.

The spot represents the “roots of my faith,” Bocelli told The Associated Press. “”For this reason, it is a very special place. I am very happy to be here. I prayed for peace in the world.”

Bocelli was to perform later Monday at a Roman amphitheater in Jordan’s northern city of Jerash.

Jordan hopes headliners like Bocelli will help revive a tourism industry that had been flagging in recent years amid regional turmoil. The kingdom portrays itself as an island of stability.

Tourism Minister Lina Annab told AP that the baptism site is as important to Jordan tourism as the ancient city of Petra.

“It is very nice to see devout people, especially of the stature of a great artist like Andrea Bocelli, to be coming to this site, and I think it brings a very nice vibe to the place,” she said.

Annab said the spot is “full of harmony, is full of peace, is full of spirituality.” Having someone like Bocelli visit “only adds to the beauty of it,” she said.

This article was written by Karin Laub from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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Tags: celebrities, jordan, tourism

Photo Credit: This is the site in Jordan where Jesus is said to have been baptized. Jordan wants to emphasize the site as a tourism attraction. Cycling Man /