Tourism as a Tool for Transboundary Cooperation

A recent study by the World Travel and Tourism Council (2017) concluded that countries with more sustainale and open tourism industries tend to be more peaceful. Both conflict-affected and non-conflict-affected countries' tourism industries show a correlation between the Tourism Index and higher positive peace, indicating that higher scores on the Tourism Index correlate with higher levels of positive pace. Tourism can therefore be considered a tool for achieving positive peace. It can help support peace by putting pressure on governments to cease fighting in order to attract tourists. This is particularly important if tourism is a crucial sector for the economy. By acting as a confidence-building plattform for people on both sides, cross-border tourism can facilitate better mutual understanding and respect, potentially reducing the intensity of the conflict. 

In this program, IPCRI is using travel and tourism as a means to bring people closer towards creating a shared understanding of each other's reality and culture. Thereby IPCRI aspires to establish an environment that is ready for peace. Based on research that was conducted as part of the project, IPCRI will identify the ways in which tourism in Israel/Palestine can be used as a tool to build confidence and resolve conflicts across boundaries. The project involves tourism stakeholders from different fields, who discuss the obstacles for mutual agreements and projects, identify challenges and formulate policy recommendations. 

Project Activities

Focus Groups

With the aim of producing a research paper that assesses the usage of tourism as a tool for conflict resolution, IPCRI conducted a number of focus group discussions with different types of tour providers, among them tour guides, alternative tour providers and dual narrative tour providers. These focus groups higlighted ways in which tourism is already used as a way to promote mutual understanding and suggested future engagement for improving the usefulness of tourism as a tool for conflict resolution.

Tours

Within the framework of this project, IPCRI organized two tours. One, titeled "Water - A Source of Conflict or Cooperation?" led participants to the Qasr el-Yahud site (the Baptism site of Jesus) at the Jordan River. The aim of the tour was to highlight ways in which cross-border cooperation holds the potential of resolving highly relevant environmental issues, such as the pollution and diversion of the Lower Jordan River. Tour guide Mira Edelstein, who previously worked on projects related to the Jordan River at EcoPeace, offered insights into the challenges around the river and pointed out that solutions lie in bringing togehter all sides, especially focusing on religiuos leaders and tour guides. 

The second tour was aimed at tour guides active in Jerusalem, who are interested in learning about alternative ways to speak about touristic hotspots in the city. In cooperation with three tour guides, Eran Tzidkiyahu, Adam Nerk and Aviv Tatarsky, we guided around 30 tour guides to Jaffa Gate, Damascus Gate, Salah ad-Din street and the City of David/Silwan, and pointed out the multiple narratives attached to each site. The tour offered views that most people are not exposed to in the mainstream narrative and thereby conrivuted to allowing tour guides to sharing a more multifaceted story in the future. 

Tourism Across Borders in Israel/Palestine

Tourism as a Tool for Social And Political Change

Researcher: Anne Bauer

This research was conducted as part of IPCRI's project "Tourism Brings Us Closer", funded by the Swiss Embassy, and examines the ways in which tourism can be used as a tool for social and political change. The research is based on focused group discussions with actors in the tourism industry that were conducted within the scope of the project. Thereby, the research analyses the challenges and opportunities identified by people working in the field. The research also offers a set of recommendations that can inform future engagements.

 
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Jordan River

A view of the Jordanian side of the Jordan River at the Qasr el-Yahud Baptism site.