Hebron /PNN/Report By Areej Masoud & Monjed Jadou
Palestinian Heritage Trail conducted a guided familiarization trip for local and international journalists and media representatives. The trip took place on a newly developed segment from Beit Mirsim to Battir. The Familiarization trip started with a hike in Surif’s area, then visiting service providers in surrounding villages in Hebron governate.
There are 16 villages along the new segment of the Trail and the Trail extension adds 60 kilometers to the original trail of the 440-kilometer-long Palestinian Heritage Trail.
The purpose of the trip is to introduce journalists to new touristic attractions and share with them a taste of what guests would experience when hiking the Trail.
The guests experienced the diverse flora and fauna and enjoy the beauty of nature, as well as the historical and cultural locations, and most importantly get to meet touristic service providers that are along that segment of the Trail. All of that rich experience provides a unique chance for visitors to connect with locals and get to learn about local produce and culture through living a unique experience.
George Rishmawi the General Director at Palestinian Heritage Trail said in an interview with the Palestine News Network PNN that the tour aims to inform journalists of the latest sections that have been added to the trail that has been developed in these parts.
Rishmawi indicated that it will be possible for the journalists, both locals, and foreigners, to get acquainted with the nature of the country, the archaeological and environmental sites, the antiquities, and the Palestinian culture, as the locals will get to know the nature of the beauty of their country.
Rishmawi explained that the trial is about to organize more tours for more journalists, diplomats, and representatives of tourism institutions on the new sections in order to promote it, especially as it bears the name of the Palestinian Heritage.
For her part, Ghaida Rahil – Project Manager at Palestinian Heritage Trail told PNN that this tour aims to familiarize journalists with the efforts made by the Masar administration in cooperation with the official and community-based bodies to develop the work, explaining that after the launch of the new section of the trail, promoting it something important through the journalists hoping that they will write reports and produce video reports and photos to introduce this section of the southern West Bank.
The Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities expressed their gratitude for the cooperation they have with the Palestinian Heritage Trail, as they both share the same vision in developing community-based tourism.
Jaber Al-Rjoub – Site Manager at Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities emphasizes the importance of the work the Palestinian Heritage Trail provides for the purpose of developing tourism, especially in area C in the West Bank.
Al-Rjoub told PNN that the Palestine Heritage trail, since it was established, in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, and contributed to the development of important community tourism, explaining that work has been put in place visions for work between the two sides.
He said that this new segment that had been established worked to enhance domestic and incoming tourism and enhanced community awareness of these sites and many people and students visited, which contributed to the development of community tourism in Palestine.
CISP – Comitato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo dei Popoli, is an international NGO based in Rome that has been implementing humanitarian, development, and emergency projects in four regional countries; Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and Italy.
CISP is currently implementing the CROSSDEV project that aims at promoting socio-economic development by increasing the touristic attractiveness of less known destinations and rural areas in the countries involved, while also protecting and valorizing the environment and the cultural heritage.
Chiara Rambaldi-Guidasci – CISP Country Representative in Palestine told PNN that the Foundation has been working in Palestine to develop societies since 1997 in the areas of humanitarian and development work, as we support humanitarian projects, explaining that the project to develop the new section falls within the framework of the Foundation’s goals to support marginalized communities and strengthen their capacities in various fields, including community and environmental tourism, that can make a difference to these communities.
She indicated that the project that we are undertaking today is part of a regional project led by CISP in four countries, namely Italy, Jordan, Palestine, and Lebanon, where we work with local partners in the Palestine Heritage Tourism trail, which works with local institutions working in the field of heritage, agriculture, and tourism in order to enhance their capabilities in the field of tourism.
Local service providers and community representatives expressed their excitement for becoming part of the Palestinian Heritage Trail, as it would help them in developing tourism in their area and serve their villages economically and politically.
Muntaha Masalmeh from the village of Beit Awa said:” Palestinian Heritage Trail helped develop my soap creation project. I received their grand that helped me open a shop instead of working from home”.
She added that This transition was the official beginning of my project, where I started selling my handmade soap, The soap is organic and made with natural herbs picked from Beit Awwa surrounding nature.
Palestinian Heritage Trail gave me the support I needed and they are helping me sell and market my products, she said.
Palestinian Heritage Trail, through the CROSSDEV project, has majorly contributed to developing Beit Ola Women’s Club, in Hebron governorate, Hanan Frashat the chairwoman of Beit Ula Women Club said.
Frashat added in an interview with PNN that their project has provided the women of the village with opportunities through establishing a guest house, which will be available for local and international visitors to stay at.
Visitors will get to experience rural life while enjoying the beautiful nature of Beit Ola, They will also get to learn about the Palestinian culture and heritage and our traditional foods as well, which would empower the local women economically and more she said.
This new segment of the Palestinian Heritage Trail has initiated a new type of community-based tourism, that seeks to reflect the Palestinian reality in marginalized areas that deserve to get noticed. Those areas bring to the tourism sector rich hidden culture and heritage, which the Palestinian Heritage Trail is bringing the spotlight to.