Promoting Cultural and Heritage Tourism in Palestine Internationally: Difficulties and Recommendations
Dr Rami K. Isaac
Marketing cultural heritage in Palestine is a complex and sensitive issue that is closely tied to the ongoing conflict in the region. The cultural heritage of Palestine encompasses a rich and diverse legacy of history, art, architecture, and traditions that reflects the region's complex and layered cultural heritage.
However, the marketing of cultural heritage in Palestine is often challenged by political and economic factors and the limited resources and infrastructure available to the Palestinian government and tourism industry. In addition, the ongoing conflict has hurt the ability of Palestinians to effectively promote their cultural heritage to international audiences.
Promoting cultural heritage in Palestine is a complex process that involves many different factors. Some of the most important factors include:
Accessibility: Cultural heritage sites and attractions must be accessible to visitors to be promoted effectively. This includes not only physical accessibility, but also accessibility in terms of information, interpretation, and representation.
Preservation: To promote cultural heritage, it is important to ensure that cultural heritage sites and attractions are preserved and protected. This includes not only physical preservation, but also preservation of the cultural, historical, and social context in which these sites are located.
Education and Awareness: By raising awareness and educating people about Palestinian cultural heritage, it is possible to create a greater understanding and appreciation of the importance of cultural heritage, and to encourage more people to visit cultural heritage sites and attractions.
Collaboration and Partnership: The promotion of cultural heritage in Palestine requires collaboration and partnership between various stakeholders, including the government, the tourism industry, local communities, NGOs, and the media. By working together, these stakeholders can create sustainable and inclusive initiatives that promote Palestinian cultural heritage and support its preservation.
Cultural Relevance: To promote cultural heritage effectively, it is important to ensure that the cultural heritage sites and attractions are relevant and meaningful to the local population and to the wider community. This can be achieved by involving local communities in the promotion of cultural heritage and by creating opportunities for people to experience and learn about Palestinian culture and heritage.
By considering these factors, it is possible to create effective strategies for promoting cultural heritage in Palestine and to support the preservation and promotion of the cultural heritage of the Palestinian people.
What Questions: Difficulties & challenges
Promoting cultural heritage in Palestine is a complex process that is faced with several challenges, including:
Political Instability: The ongoing political conflict and instability in Palestine is a major challenge for promoting cultural heritage. The conflict can impact the preservation and protection of cultural heritage sites and attractions, and can also discourage visitors from visiting Palestine and experiencing its cultural heritage.
Limited Resources: There are limited resources available for the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage in Palestine, which can make it difficult to protect and promote cultural heritage sites and attractions effectively. This includes a lack of funding, support, and resources for the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage, as well as limited human and technical capacity.
Inaccurate Representations: The representation of Palestinian cultural heritage in the media and popular culture can be inaccurate, incomplete, and biased by the media, which can hurt the promotion of cultural heritage. This can result in a skewed or incomplete understanding of Palestinian culture and heritage, which can be difficult to correct. One example of an inaccurate representation of Palestinian cultural heritage is the portrayal of traditional Palestinian clothing in Western media and fashion without proper attribution or context. Palestinian embroidery, which has been passed down through generations of Palestinian women, is often used in fashion designs without proper acknowledgement or compensation to the Palestinian community. In some cases, the designs are even marketed as "Israeli-inspired" or "Middle Eastern-inspired" without acknowledging their Palestinian origins. This not only erases the Palestinian identity of the designs but also perpetuates the false narrative that Israel is the sole inheritor of the cultural heritage of the region, ignoring the centuries of Arab and Palestinian history and culture that preceded the establishment of the state of Israel. Furthermore, this misrepresentation reinforces the oppressive power dynamics between Israel and Palestine, contributing to the erasure of Palestinian culture and identity.
Access Restrictions: Some cultural heritage sites and attractions in Palestine are restricted or inaccessible to visitors due to the Israeli occupation. This can limit the ability of people to experience and learn about Palestinian cultural heritage, and can also make it difficult to promote these sites and attractions to a wider audience.
Lack of Community Involvement: As for the challenges of community involvement, particularly in developing countries, several researchers found that the true local community participation in the tourism development process may suffer many operational (e.g. lack of coordination and information), structural (e.g. lack of expertise, lack of appropriate legal system and lack of trained human resources) and cultural challenges (e.g. low level of awareness in the local community). To promote cultural heritage effectively, it is important to involve local communities in the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage sites and attractions. However, in Palestine, local communities may not be fully engaged in cultural heritage initiatives, which can limit the effectiveness of these initiatives.
Inadequate Infrastructure: Inadequate infrastructure and facilities in Palestine can also pose a challenge to promoting cultural heritage. This includes a limited of accommodations, transportation options, and visitor services, which can make it difficult for visitors to access and experience cultural heritage sites and attractions.
Despite these challenges, it is possible to promote cultural heritage in Palestine through effective collaboration, partnership, and creativity. By working with various stakeholders, it is possible to overcome these challenges and create opportunities for people to experience and learn about Palestinian culture and heritage.
How Questions: Recommendations
To effectively market heritage tourism in Palestine, it is important to consider the following:
Highlighting Unique Cultural Heritage: Palestine has a rich cultural heritage that is unique and distinctive. It is important to highlight this cultural heritage in marketing materials and to promote the cultural heritage sites and attractions that are most significant and representative of Palestinian culture.
Emphasizing the Importance of Preservation: By emphasizing the importance of preserving and protecting cultural heritage, marketing efforts can help to raise awareness of the need to conserve cultural heritage in Palestine. This can also help to attract visitors who are interested in experiencing and learning about cultural heritage.
Collaborating with Stakeholders, Partnership is a key factor:: In terms of selecting the appropriate marketing instruments, the question arises as to which partners are suitable for cooperative agreements and with whom joint service packages can be formulated. In addition to other cultural institutions and leisure attractions, tourist-related operators such as hotels, tour companies, retailers, transport services, and local or regional tourism organisations should be considered as potential partners. Collaboration with various stakeholders, including government agencies, local communities, and cultural organizations, is essential for promoting heritage tourism in Palestine. By working together, stakeholders can pool resources, expertise, and networks to develop and promote cultural heritage initiatives.
Utilizing Digital Marketing: Digital marketing is an effective tool for promoting heritage tourism in Palestine. This can include creating a website or social media presence for cultural heritage sites and attractions and using online platforms to share information and promote heritage initiatives. Effective marketing and promotion are crucial for promoting cultural heritage in Palestine. This can include developing tourism products and packages that highlight Palestinian cultural heritage, creating marketing materials and campaigns that promote cultural heritage sites and attractions, and using online and social media to reach a wider audience.
Story-telling and its impact on destination promotion: Stories have been featured heavily in many different campaigns for tourism destinations. Moscardo (2020, p. 2), in 2016, â€œAbu Dhabi invited viewers to create their own story in the â€˜Your Extraordinary Storyâ€™ campaign, in 2018. â€˜These are our stories. What will yours be? Book your next story. Korean Tourist Organization invites visitors to â€˜Let your story beginâ€™, and Airbnb encourages tourists to tell their stories using the hashtag #airbnb and then selects these guest stories to present on their own social media, adding to the stories from hosts in their website â€˜Stories from the Airbnb Communityâ€™. These examples are focused on stories as promotional tool and generally include destination stories and sometimes tourist stories. Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) seek to create and communicate interesting stories to attract people to visit their destination and to promote tourism services. Destination managers have adopted the use of storytelling as a key approach to marketing their destinations. Stories are employed as a device aimed at stimulating touristsâ€™ interest and preserving memories, interpreting and reinterpreting the present by looking at the past and the future.
Inviting Journalists/travel magazines Fam trips: Invitation of journalists, bloggers and vloggers who can write about the rich cultural and heritage sites in Palestine.
Fostering Community Involvement: Involving local communities in the promotion of heritage tourism is important for creating a sense of ownership and pride in local cultural heritage. By involving local communities in heritage initiatives, marketing efforts can also tap into local networks and expertise, which can help to promote heritage tourism more effectively.
Developing Visitor Services: Providing high-quality visitor services is crucial for promoting heritage tourism in Palestine. This can include offering guided tours, visitor information centres, and other amenities that make it easier for visitors to experience and learn about cultural heritage.
Overall, promoting heritage tourism in Palestine requires a strategic and integrated approach that considers the unique challenges and opportunities in the region. By utilizing effective marketing strategies, working with stakeholders, and fostering community involvement, it is possible to promote and market heritage tourism in a way that benefits local communities and preserves cultural heritage for future generations.
An example of an integrated approach to marketing heritage tourism is the "Malta Experience" campaign launched by the Malta Tourism Authority, with the collaboration of various stakeholders in Malta. This campaign utilized a variety of marketing channels and platforms to promote Malta's cultural and historical heritage to potential visitors.
The campaign involved the creation of a 45-minute audio-visual show that takes visitors through Malta's rich history, starting from the prehistoric era up to modern times. This show was housed in a purpose-built theatre that utilized the latest technology, including a 3D projection system and surround sound, to create an immersive experience for visitors.
The "Malta Experience" campaign was also supported by a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that included social media advertising, email marketing, and influencer partnerships. The campaign's website provided visitors with detailed information about the show, as well as additional resources on Malta's cultural and historical attractions.
In addition, the Malta Tourism Authority worked with different stakeholders, including with travel agents and tour operators to incorporate the "Malta Experience" into their itineraries, providing an integrated tourism product that included both the audio-visual show and other cultural and historical sites across Malta. By utilizing a combination of immersive experiences, digital marketing, and partnership strategies, the "Malta Experience" campaign provided visitors with a comprehensive and integrated approach to experiencing Malta's cultural and historical heritage, ultimately driving tourism to the country.
The role of Palestinian embassies
Embassies can play an important role in promoting the cultural heritage of Palestine. By working with local governments and organizations, embassies can help to raise awareness of the cultural heritage of Palestine and promote it to international audiences.
Some ways in which embassies can promote the cultural heritage of Palestine include:
Hosting cultural events and exhibitions: Embassies can host events such as film screenings, art exhibitions, and cultural festivals to showcase the cultural heritage of Palestine to local audiences.
Supporting cultural exchange programs: Embassies can support cultural exchange programs that bring Palestinian artists, musicians, and cultural practitioners to other countries to share their knowledge and experiences.
Promoting cultural tourism: Embassies can help to promote cultural tourism in Palestine by providing information and resources to tourists and travel agents and working with local tourism organizations to develop itineraries and tours that showcase the cultural heritage of the region.
Providing funding and resources: Embassies can provide funding and resources to support the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage sites and institutions in Palestine.
Building partnerships: Embassies can build partnerships with local cultural organizations, governments, and universities to support the promotion and preservation of the cultural heritage of Palestine.
By working with local organizations and institutions, embassies can help to promote the cultural heritage of Palestine to international audiences and support the preservation and promotion of the cultural heritage of the region for future generations.
Palestinian Narratives: a counter-discourse
Promoting the Palestinian narrative is important for raising awareness of the Palestinian people's cultural heritage, history, and perspectives. There are several ways to promote the Palestinian narrative, including:
Online and social media: Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be used to share stories, images, and videos about Palestinian culture, history, and heritage. This can help to reach a wider audience and raise awareness of the Palestinian narrative. Israel has systematically rewritten Palestinian history to legitimize Jewish claims to the territory while dismissing Palestinian counter-claims
Cultural events and festivals: By hosting cultural events and festivals, it is possible to showcase the cultural heritage and traditions of the Palestinian people and create opportunities for people to learn about and experience Palestinian culture. One way of doing it is through counter-memory as a form of resistance, which uses techniques such as recalling forgotten memories, places, sites, voices, and experiences from the past to destabilize the dominant (Israeli) discourses.
Film and media: Film and media can be powerful tools for promoting the Palestinian narrative, as they provide a platform for sharing stories and perspectives that may not be widely known or represented. This is an example of the Palestine Museum in the USA.
Education and research: By supporting education and research, it is possible to promote a more nuanced and informed understanding of the Palestinian narrative. This can include providing resources and support to scholars and researchers, as well as developing educational programs and initiatives that promote the Palestinian narrative.
Community engagement: By working with local communities, it is possible to promote the Palestinian narrative by encouraging residents to share their stories, experiences, and perspectives with others. By promoting cultural heritage sites and attractions, it is possible to raise awareness of the Palestinian narrative and create opportunities for people to experience it firsthand.