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Explore the Galilee

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Community Based Tourism and Sustainability: The Case of a Hostel in the Old City of Nazareth

By Joseph | 6 December 2013

Prof. Daniel Laven

Department of Tourism Studies and Geography Mid Sweden University, Sweden

[email protected]

Dr. Alon Gelbman

Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management,
Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee, Israel

[email protected]  [email protected]

Tourism has been mentioned as a social force that can contribute and promote international understanding, cooperation, and global good will in establishing andkeeping world peace. This connection between tourism and peace has been investigated by researchers who have debated the role of tourism in promoting peace in countries around the world. The State of Israel, most of whose citizens are Jewish, includes an Arab minority accounting for some 20 per cent of the country’s total population. This cross-cultural dynamic is connected to a range of geopolitical
challenges within the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Nazareth is the country’s largest Arab city and is considered the capital of Israel’s Arab population. Despite its rich heritage, Nazareth suffers from tensions associated with its various cultural and religious groups.

Increasingly, research on topic areas such as sustainable tourism and heritage development suggest that community-based, heritage tourism efforts can help ease tensions and promote cross-cultural dialogue and reconciliation. Previous research has examined this effect in places characterized by a range of social-cultural trauma (e.g., slavery, extreme environmental pollution, natural disasters). While the settings differ, these studies tend to conclude that heritage development (i.e., understanding the factors that shape human experience in a specific place) can empower disenfranchised
communities in ways that also attract visitors.

Within this theoretical context, this exploratory study examines the potential for tourism development to promote cross-cultural dialog while catalyzing renewal of the historic old city of Nazareth. The paper offers preliminary findings from a qualitative case study of an alternative, small-scale tourism venture that seeks to dramatically influence tourism development in Nazareth’s old city. The paper’s theoretical context lies at the intersection of contemporary theories associated with heritage development, the sustainability paradigm, and peace tourism. Study findings suggest that this type of “bottom-up” tourism development can help create shared interests across different cultural groups while catalyzing new tourism development activities in historic old city of Nazareth. Implications of this experience are also discussed in the context of other regions characterized by cross-cultural developmental challenges.

Keywords: Heritage Development, Sustainable Tourism, Peace, Community Based Tourism, Nazareth

Daniel Laven (PhD) is an associate professor in the department of tourism studies and geography (Mid Sweden University) and a research fellow at the European Tourism Research Institute (ETOUR). Daniel coordinates the department’s masters program and his research addresses issues of sustainable development with a focus on landscapes, heritage, and protected areas. Daniel is also affiliated with the university’s Risk and
Crisis Research Centre and recently completed a research fellowship in the department of conservation, University of Gothenburg. Prior to joining Mid Sweden University, Daniel worked for the U.S. National Park Service, sharing his time between the Conservation Study Institute (as an applied social scientist) and the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park (as an assistant protected area manager) – both of which are located in Woodstock, Vermont (USA). During this time, he was also an adjunct assistant professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural
Resources, University of Vermont. Daniel holds a bachelors degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (philosophy) along with masters (natural resource planning) and doctoral (natural resources) degrees from the University of Vermont.

Alon Gelbman (PhD) is a Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Tourism and Hotel Management at Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee, Israel. He is a Cultural Geographer and his research interests include international tourism and geopolitical borders, tourism and peace, urban/rural tourism, hosts-guests relationships and wellness tourism. His research papers published in leading scientific journals such as
Annals of Tourism Research, Tourism Geographies and Current Issues in Tourism. Dr. Gelbman is also an Associate Editor of the Journal of Tourism and Peace Research and a reviewer for various scientific journals in the field of tourism. More information can be found at: http://kinneret.academia.edu/AlonGelbman.

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