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Tourism Project

Tourism Project

Living within Area C of the West Bank, our local communities are seeking local livelihood opportunities which will encourage people to stay on our historic land, share our cultural practices with younger generations, and raise awareness internationally so that we can improve our own living conditions whilst living under occupation. Together we have developed a proposal for creative tourism that will engage children, youth, women, and men in restoring traditional buildings, preserving the natural environment, creating new sources of income, and strengthening economic development in the South Bethlehem area. Al Shmoh Cultural Centre, as a long standing community centre in South Bethlehem, is in a strong position to act as a central point for a community lead tourism project. Our communities have the passion, enthusiasm, skills, and experience, to upgrade old buildings and historic sites, pave access roads, manage community events, and provide tours for visitors, but we require the seed funding for initial resources. We plan to create a tourism subcommittee, employ two local project managers, and provide two youth internships, to form a team of people who will manage restoration and building works, and develop and promote local tour packages.


Project Details

Visitors are able to learn about our local farming methods, learn how to cook traditional cheese and bread, and eat at our community restaurant which will serve local produce. They will see a restored old olive press in action, witness the baking of bread in old caves, and go for scenic walking tours in countryside. They will see women making traditional handicrafts, and be able to purchase items from the Al Shmoh Womens Handicraft Collective. A traditional Bedouin style tent will provide a venue for story sharing and events, and a campsite will offer space for families and school groups wishing to stay overnight.

RELEVANCE OF THE PROJECT:

The target population are communities in Al Masara and the 8 surrounding villages, located in Area C of the West Bank.Community meetings and discussions have lead to a vision to build Al Shmoh as a centre for creative tourism, where people from communities can share aspects of village life with local, regional, and international tourists, as an income generating and economic development opportunity, as a way of sharing positive traditional cultural practices, and to raise

awareness about life in South Bethlehem.The concept of creative tourism was defined by UNESCO in 2008:Creative tourism is travel directed toward an engaged and authentic experience, with participative learning in the arts, heritage, or special character of a place, and it provides a connection with those who reside in this place and create this living culture.

Considering the development context, the project will seek to build village based opportunities for sustainable livelihoods, which encourage residents to stay in the villages, take pride in our traditional cultural practices, and strengthen community support networks. In addition to improved livelihoods, this project will provide a range other impacts such as restoration of community infrastructure, rejuvenation of agricultural and farming land, and a greater number of visitors to the local area. Emotional impacts will include greater space for sharing skills between generations, practicing traditional cultural activities, strengthening of social support networks within and between the villages, which will contribute to improved community resilience. Considering the intersections of age and gender, the sections below provide specific detail as to the potential impacts for children, youth, women, men, and older people. Children:

  • Activities such as the summer camp and photo documentation project will help to foster a safe environment for children to focus on the positive points of life beyond conflict.
  • Children both from inside the local area and those visiting from other parts of the west bank will have the chance to listen to stories, learn about their own heritage and the countryside, to practice traditional activities and customs
  • Children will have a safe emotional environment where children can share and debrief from experiences of rights violations
  • Allowing children to take part in activities will enable them to draw upon their strengths and build their skills to recognize themselves as actors in this situation, where they as the future generations are able to have a positive impact upon the situation in Palestine

Young people:

  • In many ways young people will lead this project implementation, with roles in leadership positions, and active roles throughout the tourism program. This will allow them to take on additional responsibility, and to practice and build their leadership skills.
  • Employment and income generation opportunities will provide greater financial options for their future, and allow them to stay in the village rather than move to urban centres for work.
  • Space and time to learn from older men and women about traditional cultural practices will encourage young people to feel connected to their land and their culture, bringing families and generations together.
  • Active participation and productivity will give stability, build emotional safety, build personal strength, and build community resilience.

Women

  • Income generation and activities close to their homes will mean that women do not need to travel to urban centres for work, which is particularly useful for single mothers and women headed households
  • Existing agricultural and handicraft produce will have increased access to markets which will allow for additional income
  • English language courses and business marketing courses will build skills and expand employment and trade opportunities
  • Involvement in tour guide activities, hosting visitors, the restaurant, cooking classes etc will provide opportunities for women to be actively involved in their community outside of the home environment
  • Womens spaces in the handicraft collective and restaurant will provide an environment where women can continue to share stories, build relationships, and find support
  • Time and space to share knowledge will highlight the strength of women, the array of skills and practices they have to share, and build resilience between generations

Men

  • Pressure to seek work and income are reduced given additional opportunities in the local area
  • Work and working conditions are overseen by the Tourism Subcommittee to ensure safe work spaces, fair work conditions, and adequate income for work
  • Refurbishment of infrastructure, ongoing tours, and community events will provide local activities where men can participate in improving their local social and physical environments
  • Alongside children, young people, and women; men will share stories with visitors, share skills and traditional practices between generations, and live in an increasingly supportive environment which builds resilience

Older people and people with disabilities

  • Older people are able to share skills, knowledge, and stories, with younger generations through the community fields, restaurant, and handicrafts centre.
  • Older people and people with disabilities are able to share their stories with visitors to the area, to raise awareness and connect with broader networks beyond their local villages.
  • Older people will feel a sense of hope seeing space and time for the sharing of knowledge and preservation of traditional Palestinian cultural practices.
  • People with disabilities are included where ever possible, through employment opportunities, sharing stories with visitors, etc. and any physical development work will where possible provide ramps and easy access for people with limited mobility.

Activities

Activity 1.1

Development and preservation of community infrastructure: Working together with the Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation, we restored the oldest house in the village, ,an old well, and an old cave, and paved an existing road for improved access. The house are used to host the Al Shmoh Womens Handicraft Cooperative and Al Shmoh Restaurant, and cave is used for traditional uses such as making bread and grape jam. The spaceis used for sharing skills about things such as food preparation and making traditional handicrafts.

Activity 1.2

Development and preservation of agricultural and pastoral land: four fields is developed for seasonal agricultural uses and for livestock such as donkeys, sheep, and chickens. The fieldsis communally managed and provides a space for community education, including school visits and general tourism. The produce of these communal fields are used for educational purposes and for consumption within the Al Shmoh Restaurant.

Activity 2.1

Develop facilities at Al Shmoh Cultural Centre to be a community resource for creative tourism using a 3 year business plan model: Al Shmoh formed a tourismsubcommittee which will consist of at least 2 young women, 2 young men, 3 women, and 3 men from across the communities who have experience or interests in tourism, enterprise, hospitality, marketing, communications, finance, management, or project management. Alshmoh subcommittee

  • Yousif alaadeen
  • Gada Zawahra
  • Eman Tayeem
  • Jumah Aladeen
  • Mahmoud Soliman
  • Hamed Eid
  • Najwa Zeiada
  • Jawad Mohammed
  • Hekmat Hameeda
  • Enaam Huusien Fawagra
  • Reziq Hussien
  • Ahmad Alaza
  • Khalil oamar

They will develop a detailed three year business plan for tourism within South Bethlehem, drawing from the objectives of this project design. The subcommittees main objective is to monitor activities and establish financial self-sustainability. The subcommittee are supported for the first 12 months with paid project staff, 2 in project management roles and 2 youth internships. Following the first 12 months, after the infrastructure work has been completed and tourism program is running, office infrastructure are utilised by volunteers, the womens handicraft cooperative, and tourism related work.

Activity 3.1

Implementation and development of visitor tour packages through the villages and countryside: Two youth interns to lead the implementation of visitor tour packages, to train youth tour leaders, and to continually develop and improve processes following feedback from initial tours. Sightseeing activities are lead by young women and men, to include activities such as: walking tours, following shepherds during their paths with sheep, riding horses and donkeys, make Palestinian's cheese, make bread in the traditional way, pressing olives to make oil, participating in cooking classes with women and youths, planting and harvesting olive trees, and helping with the farming of seasonal agriculture.

TARGET POPULATION:

Al Ma'sara and the 8 surrounding villages have been chosen as the target population, located in Area C of the West Bank.The project will subsequently target individual children, youth, women, and men who access the Al Shmoh Cultural Centre over the next 12 months. Specific activities in the project are in particular targeted at children, youth, and women.

Based on current volunteer numbers and interest in this project design, we would estimate that within the first 12 months this project would involve a minimum of 120 children, 100 youth, and 150 adults who would participate in project related activities. An estimate of how many people are directly engaged has been provided below, desegregated by age and gender:

  • 60 girl children: involved in summer camps, documenting photographs
  • 60 boy children: involved in summer camps, documenting photographs
  • 50 young women: involved in subcommittee participation, handicraft collective, the restaurant, as tour guides, attending the English language courses and/or the business marketing courses
  • 50 young men: involved in subcommitteeparticipation, donkey trails, English language courses, as tours guides, the restaurant, refurbishing buildings, developing infrastructure and paving access roads.
  • 100 women: involved in subcommitteeparticipation, Handicraft collective, restaurant, attending English language courses, tour guide, demonstration of traditional practices, cooking classes , farming and agriculture, preparing the campsite, and teaching English language courses.
  • 80 men: Involved in subcommitteeparticipation, as tour guides, farming and agriculture, refurbishing buildings, developing infrastructure and paving access roads, preparing the campsite, building water and sanitations facilities for campsite, teaching English language courses.

In addition to these people who are directly targeted for their involvement in the tourism project, a wide range of people within and beyond the villages will benefit:

  • Families of the people above will benefit from increased access to household income.
  • Communities will benefit through access to refurbished infrastructure, local produce, community events, and through meeting and sharing stories with local, regional, and international visitors.
  • Local and regional schools will benefit from being able to visit the area on school visits and as part of the summer camp, allowing the students to share stories and to learn traditional Palestinian cultural practices from demonstrations in the village.
  • Local and regional tourists would benefit from experiencing village life and hearing the stories from rural areas.
  • International visitors would benefit from being able to discover tourist areas beyond religious monuments, learning about life in the country side, and learning about human rights and life under occupation.

Young people are targeted for engagement in as decision makers in the Tourism Subcommittee, as participants in the English language classes, as tour guides, as employees of the restaurant, and for working on the upgrade of infrastructure, etc. Young women will also be involved in the Women's Handicraft Collective. These activities will expand economic and income generation opportunities, and build confidence, hope, and resilience. Impacts will hopefully see emerging young leaders, increased optimism for the future, young people with access to sustainable livelihoods, and young women and men with increased English, management, and marketing skills taking on leadership positions in their local communities.

Women are targeted for engagement at all levels of decision making, within the Tourism Subcommittee, within an all women management committee on the Women's Handicraft Collective, within the restaurant, and involved in the tours. Impacts are increased participation for women in decision making, encouragement for girls to take on leadership positions, expanded economic and income generation opportunities, and building confidence, hope, and resilience. Impacts will hopefully see women engaged in leadership roles within the local community, women headed households with access to sustainable livelihoods, women with employment or income through the restaurant and collective, and women with increased optimism for the future.

Whilst older people and people with disabilities will not be directly targeted within this project, the development of transportation routes will improve accessibility in the area, and where possible building refurbishments will provide ramps and accessible spaces for people who require mobility assistance.

Why did you choose this target population? What criteria have you used?

We chose this target population because it mirrors the people that Al Shmoh Community Centre is lead by and works with. We believe that rural communities such as ours in Area C should be eligible for support for sustainable livelihood programs, given that our rights have been violated through land acquisition for settlements, and that the wall separates us from our land. Young women, young men, and women are targetedthrough specific activities, but we predict that wide ranging benefits of the project will reach the many layers of our communities.

Participation of the target population (please specify their participation related to the planning and design of this project, at the time of implementation and after the project implementation. Please disaggregate women, men, children and youth whenever possible)

This proposal has been designed over months of informal discussions with residents who access the Al Shmoh Cultural Centre. Prior to drafting this document Al Shmoh Cultural Centre volunteers facilitated two focus groups. One focus group had 20 women participate. The other focus group had 15 young women and 20 young men participate. In both focus groups participants discussed and listed challenges they face, grouped them into themes, and then extracted from each theme root causes and possible solutions. The design of this proposal is based upon their solutions, together with informal suggestions from individual women and men who engage with the Centre on a weekly basis.

If the proposal is approved, the first action are for the creation of an Al Shmoh Tourism Subcommittee and development of a 3 year business plan. The subcommittee will consist of at least 2 young women, 2 young men, 3 women, and 3 men from across the communities who have experience or interests in tourism, enterprise, hospitality, marketing, communications, finance, management, or project management. They will develop a detailed three year business plan for tourism within South Bethlehem, drawing from the objectives of this project design. The subcommittee will meet as required to monitor the project implementation and improve processes.

Supporting the Al Shmoh Tourism Subcommittee are four project staff, hired for a 12 month period. All staff are hired from one of the nine local villages that access the Al Shmoh Cultural Centre. Ideally women are employed for at least 2 of the 4 roles.

  • Community Development Manager Responsibilities: Facilitating the initial set up of activities listed under Outputs 2 and 3, including the women's cooperative, restaurant, and tourism campaign, oversees website development, financial management, and monitoring and evaluation of the project, and supervises the construction manager and youth intern positions. This position will report to the Tourism Subcommittee.
  • Project Construction Manager Responsibilities: Project management of all of the construction and development works, including the restaurant and showroom fit outs, access road paving, campsite preparation, agricultural field establishment, tent erection, water and sanitation facilities, old cave, olive press, and well restoration. This role will contract and supervise construction groups, complete related financial acquittals, and reports directly to the Community Development Manager.
  • Youth Internship: Administration and Communications Responsibilities: Assists with office administration, finance, media, enquiries, and reporting, establishment of records and file management systems, develops the website, reportingdirectly to the Community Development Manager.
  • Youth Internship: Tourism Manager Responsibilities: Works closely with the community development manager to design, promote, and implement tour packages, including training youth tour guides and gathering feedback from visitors, reportingdirectly to the Community Development Manager.

Following the first 12 months, after the infrastructure work has been completed and tourism program is running, office infrastructure are utilised by volunteers, the women's handicraft cooperative, and tourism related work.

All infrastructure development, building refurbishment, etc. are provided by experienced local contractors.

The existing Al Shmoh Women's Handicraft Collective will strengthen and form a management committee which oversees parts of the project targeted at women, including the women's English language courses, the women's business and marketing training, and the showroom space in the old house which are used to sell produce and handicrafts. At least one representative from this collective are on the Al Shmoh Tourism Subcommittee.

The existing Al Shmoh Cultural Centre space to plan and monitor project activities. During the course of the project a small number of digital cameras are made available for children and young people to borrow, which are used to document development and tourism throughout the year. At the end of the first year hold a community based photo exhibition to celebrate the communities achievements. See the monitoring and evaluation plan for further details of how the communities will provide feedback

GENDER APPROACH:

Al Shmoh Cultural Centre is community led by women and men who interpret gender in a traditional Palestinian context. Whilst traditional practices do present gender norms, they also insist upon a culture of respect for older people, women, youths, and children. This project is considered to be gender sensitive in that the design, planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation, will at each step involve children, young women, young men, women, men, older women, and older men. During this proposal we have considered "youths" not as one homogenous group, but instead a group of people made up of both females and males, and this approach will continue throughout the course of the project.

Specific activities have been targeted to children, young people, and women, and will hopefully encourage these groups to gain agency and take on roles as actors within their community contexts. This may impact upon gender relationships in terms of allowing more young people and women to take on leadership and decision making roles. Whilst older people in the community may not be so familiar with this shift, they are aware of changing political climates in regards to gender and it would we would not foresee any negative relationship impacts as a result of these developments.

The evaluation process at the end of the 12 months will ensure an equal number of female and male participants, and where possible surveys/focus groups with females are facilitated by women, and surveys/focus groups with males are facilitated by men.

The Cave Album

Fields Album

Restorant Album

A traditional Bedouin Album