Sustainable Development Forum – Palestine Conference

Ibrahim -Palestine Professor:

Palestine Conference

 

The New Challenges of Tourism & its Policy Responses to Stakeholders under Agenda 2030-With Special Reference to Palestine Region

(Dr K M George; President; Sustainable Development Forum & Former  UN Adviser; Mel Mana  Gardens, Kerala-India; Email  Melmana@gmail.com;  +91 9947670887) (International  Tourism  Conference in the  University  of  Jerusalem from  20th  to  26th April,2018)

Abstract:

 

In1994, the United Nations identified three forms of tourism in its recommendations on Tourism Statistics. Domestic tourism, involving residents of the given country travelling only within this country. Inbound tourism, involving non-residents travelling in the given country, outbound tourism, involving residents travelling in another country.

 

During the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly 154 heads of state or governments adopted the bold and ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Its aim is to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.

 

UNWTO is working to help achieve the SDGs, placing an emphasis on Goals 8, 12 and 14. These goals cover tourism fairly well. Despite continuing economic problems worldwide, the tourism industry is growing strong. Developing countries are becoming popular destinations.

Types of tourism:

 

There are several types of tourism like Adventure Tourism; Business Tourism; Cultural Tourism; Dark Tourism; Eco-Tourism; Medical Tourism; Yoga Tourism, Religious Tourism; Sex Tourism; Space Tourism and Sports Tourism.

 

  • The direct economic contribution of travel and tourism amounted to approximately USD 2.31 trillion in 2016. Tourism is a highly taxed industry. Look at the percentage of taxes paid on an airline ticket, a hotel room, or a rental car. Security is a major challenge to the tourism and travel industry. Safety is another challenge facing the tourism industry. Mobile medical units may be needed, others will need special diets and readily available pharmacies open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Closely related to safety issues are health issues such as sudden outbreak of diseases that can easily cause tourism panics. Political conditions will continue to be a challenge for the tourism industry. On the international front, tourism will continue to have to deal with an ever more complicated and confusing political reality. Despite governments claiming that they support tourism, visa restrictions have become more complicated. Furthermore, no nation seems to be immune from street demonstrations, politically motivated riots, and acts of terrorism, wars or bureaucratic red tape. Here  Palestine  is  a  big  question  mark  for  travellers and  tour  operators  These circumstances not only give negative publicity to the host locale, but also make travel more difficult and less appealing. Travel stress brought about by poor travel conditions. One of the major challenges that tourism industry faces is the fluctuations in currency exchange rates. Tourism industry is seasonal in nature and does not guarantee round the year flow of income which hampers the overall business.  Inflation is rising at an alarming rate and restaurants have had to raise prices or lower their service. Transportation companies have been hit hard. The airline industry is especially vulnerable. Airlines depend on both the food industry and the fuel industry.  In 2011, international tourism arrivals in emerging markets and developing countries amounted to 459 million.

 

  • Tourism is the first or second source of export earnings in 20 of the world’s 48 economies.
  • In some developing countries, notably small island states, tourism can account for over 25 per cent of GDP.
  • An in-depth look at Palestine’s tourism potential reveals that the diversity of this small territory lays the groundwork for very powerful visits to the area under very many vivid themes. The traditional pilgrimage routes are, of course, the highlight of any spiritual journey to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, with the beacons of both faiths attracting thousands of tourists daily. But pilgrimage routes are highlighted also by visits of Sebastiya, Hebron, and Jericho as main destinations. It is only natural that one may run into pilgrims at Saint George’s Church in Burqin or at the Maqam of Nabi Musa in the desert offering scope for adventure tourism. In reality, adventure tourism could be as soft as a photography tour and as challenging as a trek across the deserts of Palestine. Today, Palestinian tour operators and associations are showing high levels of creativity in suggesting a panel of products in Palestinian cities, villages, and natural landscape. We also see an emergence of cultural tours.

 

  • The Palestinian Territories have a high concentration of World Heritage Sites and large variety of tourist attractions. A relatively high volume of same day visitors does not convert into overnight tourists. In fact, tourism accounts for USD 271million of annual revenue and 15,000 jobs. Marketing budget is very small. Hotel room capacity and occupancy has to grow manifold.  But unlocking the industry’s potential could increase overnight tourists’ manifold extent and it is a big challenge!

Policy Issues to Facilitate Better Performance:

Having seen  the  origin and  the  gradual development of  tourism as a very  powerful  socio-economic and cultural  instrument of development with  vertical and  horizontal linkages,  an effort is  made to flag  a few policy  issues  for the concerted  attention of  all  stake  holders. A few soul searching questions are being asked. How would we facilitate holistically the ease of visiting a place in future with vertical and horizontal linkages? How would we ensure that feeling of priceless joy of visiting a place in relation to the objective?

1)  There are very many grey areas confronting all stakeholders, which need to  be addressed expeditiously by policy makers notably by the concerned  governments and the UN. Under Agenda 2030, regular monitoring must be done to see if targets are achieved with appropriate trouble shooting mechanism in place.

2) As tourism is highly taxed industry, it must be realistically rationalised on war footing.

3) Safety and security must be beefed up for all the players by creating congenial conditions.

4) Issuance of visa and such other travel documents may be proactively rationalised to make Agenda 2030 user friendly to deliver its mandate. There  are  numerous  cases  of  visa  rejection  to  middle  east  of late. Members of the same family do become victims of this tragedy.  My own  empirical  data  give  adequate  support to  substantiate  the  above  argument. From  an Indian  Hindu family,  while the  father  gets  visa,  mother and  two  children are denied  visa for a visit to the holy land in April 2018. It was further probed into. The  real reason is  the  mismatch between  the  number  of  tourists and  the   facilities available to cater to them like accommodation, etc  without   disrupting  the local population. The quaint essence is the mismatch between the tourist absorption capacity and the elastic supply.

5) The traditional pilgrim routes to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron and the like are to be highlighted and aggressively marketed.

6) Again for adventure tourism, Palestine deserts to be profitably exploited for trekking etc.

7)  It is a truism that Palestine Regions have high concentration of World Heritage Sites. It must be showcased as niche market segment for high value   focus under cultural tourism.

8) Green protocol implementation to be spearheaded by   the governments and complied by all stakeholders.

9) Excellent digital connectivity is a precondition for any vibrant tourism industry. This is a priority area for Palestine too.

10) Now tourism is, by and large, provider- centric. It must change to a culture of tourist -centric phenomenon.

11) The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) may be profitably exploited with   forward and backward linkages as the knowledge society demands it holistically.

12) Scientific evidence warns of the looming threat of climate change and as such tourism sector to become proactively a game changer globally accordingly.

13)  The  menace of  religious  fundamentalism and terrorism  which has been plaguing the peaceful  co-existence in  many  a  place. It must be contained by promoting Peace Tourism in the Middle East. An  international Study  Dialogue Centre  of  Excellence  may be  set up  by the  UN in close  collaboration  with Israel and the  Palestine  authorities. A detailed concept note on this proposition can be submitted on demand by the Sustainable Development Forum (SDF). A brief conceptual model is given in Annexure -1.

14)  The youth unemployment must be addressed in the region expeditiously. If  the  youth are  gainfully  employed,  they  have little  time for  disruptive  activities under  any banner of fundamentalism.

15)  Yoga may be taken up very seriously in schools and colleges for better health and discipline to beef up mental calibre.  It  is  suggested  to  set up an International  Yoga  and  Meditation Centre in  Jerusalem  and Bethlehem by the international  community. This among others would bring about peace and better quality life in an otherwise strife ridden society.

 

 

Main Paper

1) Tourism is not a new enterprise or venture.  It was practised in one form or the other, from time immemorial. Some 5000 years ago in India , China, Greece , the erstwhile Iraq, Rome, etc the  ancient   sages, scholars ,wise men and traders used  to  go from  place to place in search  of  spiritual solace,  knowledge and  trading. Arab traders used to visit far off places in India like the recent day Kerala in search of spices including the black gold.  In history it is known as the Spice trading route. It is believed that by making use of the same route, St. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, came to preach Christianity in India in 52 AD along with the traders! And  in the  ancient  Rome, wealthy people used  to  spend  good  time to escape the  harsh weather  to  the  mountains or the  coastal  regions as  a seasonal exercise. This was  matched  with  the  emergence  of way side  inns and  some  sort of rudimental  accommodations to  cater to the  creature  comforts of the travellers.

 

2) But  with the emergence  of  the  affluent  middle class  with more  disposable  incomes,  tourism began to undergo a sea  change with better  infrastructure  facilities  to cater to the  ever  increasing demands. In fact, from class tourism, there was a shift to mass tourism as time advanced, under various forms. In the middle ages, Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism and Islam all had traditional pilgrimages. Even the lower strata of society took to spiritual or health tourism, among others. Modern tourism can be traced back to what is known as the Grand Tour, which was a traditional tour around Europe. This custom flourished from the 1660s till the advent of large scale rail transport system in the 1840s.  In the 20th an d 21st century this was extended to include more middle class people after rail and steamship travel made the journey easier and hassle free. In 1994, the United Nations identified three forms of tourism in its Recommendations on Tourism Statistics.

  • Domestic tourism, involving residents of the given country travelling only within this country
  • Inbound tourism, involving non-residents travelling in the given country
  • Outbound tourism, involving residents travelling in another country

The terms tourism and travel are sometimes used interchangeably. In this context, travel has a similar definition to tourism, but implies a more purposeful journey. The terms tourism and tourist are sometimes used to imply a shallow interest in the cultures or locations visited. By contrast, traveller is often used as a sign of distinction. The sociology of tourism has studied the cultural values underpinning these distinctions and their implications for class relations.

3) During the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly 154 heads of state or governments adopted the bold and ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Its aim is to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.

4) Based on this vision, UNWTO is placing its efforts and tireless work in contributing with its technical assistance and capacity-building to the achievement of these global goals. UNWTO is working to help achieve the SDGs, placing an emphasis on Goals 8, 12 and 14. These goals cover tourism fairly well.

5) Tourism is one of the driving forces of global economic growth. By giving access to decent work opportunities in the tourism sector, society- particularly youth and women- can benefit from enhanced skills and professional development. The sector’s contribution to job creation is recognized in target 8.9 “By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products”.  It aims to ensure equitable sustainable Consumption and Production.

6) A tourism sector that adopts sustainable consumption and production (SCP) practices can play a significant role in accelerating the global shift towards sustainability. To do so, as set in Target 12.b of Goal 12, it is imperative to “Develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism which creates jobs, promotes local culture and products”. The Sustainable Tourism Programme (STP) of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and production Patterns (10YFP) aims at developing such SCP practices, including   resource efficient initiatives that result in enhanced economic, social and environmental outcomes. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Coastal and maritime tourism are tourism’s biggest segments, particularly for Small Island Developing States’ (SIDS), rely on healthy marine ecosystems. Tourism development must be a part of integrated Coastal Zone Management in order to help conserve and preserve fragile ecosystems like coral reefs and mangroves serve as a vehicle to promote the blue economy, in line with target 14.7: “by 2030 increase the economic benefits of SIDS and LCDs from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism”.

 

Ongoing Status of Tourism

1) Despite continuing economic problems worldwide, the tourism industry is growing strong. Developing countries are becoming popular destinations for many. Tourism products must be sustainable and generate work for locals in order to serve inclusive development. It must be eco friendly as well. According to the latest annual report by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), tourism’s contribution to global GDP grew by 3.2per cent in 2012. This was higher than the entire world economy’s rate of growth. Tourism is no longer a mere niche product. In absolute figures, Africa only plays a minor role in international tourism, but the contribution of tourism to the African economies is significant.

2) Mass tourism in particular has been blamed for exploiting poor people and endangering biodiversity due to inefficient use of resources. Global tourism industry must play a key role in green growth. In many holiday destinations, climate change is threatening the area’s potential for tourism. Tourism products must be environmentally sustainable, and provide long-term livelihoods to the local population. As compared to other economic sectors, tourism is quite labour- and capital-intensive, and is compatible with many country’s development goals. In developing economies, the travel industry constitutes the  first or second most important source of foreign-exchange revenues after In developing economies, the travel industry constitutes the second most important source of foreign-exchange revenues after commodity exports.

3) Tourism should not be seen as the only tool to contain or eliminate poverty but it can make a powerful contribution, to the country’s economy. The potential to develop tourism and to channel a higher percentage of tourism spending towards the poor may be great in some areas and it needs to be assessed.  And in some cases, it is quite small.

The potential to develop more tourism and to channel a higher percentage of tourism spending towards the poor may be great in some areas and quite small in others.

There are several types of tourism, and each country needs to identify its niche market character.

Types of tourism

Adventure Tourism; Business Tourism; Cultural Tourism; Dark Tourism; Eco Tourism; Medical Tourism; Religious Tourism; Sex Tourism; Space Tourism; Sports Tourism.

1) From global experience, tourism offers a number of benefits holistically to the tourists and to the host destination region or country. The tourism industry encompasses many different areas, so it also creates jobs in many different areas. Today with the advent of tourism, hotels, restaurants, car rental agencies, tour companies, service stations, souvenir shops, sports equipment rentals, and   such others are a great source of employment for local people. In many places, the introduction and development of tourism allows local people an opportunity for economic and educational growth that would not otherwise be available.  In addition, it allows both the tourist and the local community a chance to experience other cultures, which broadens perceptions.

 

2) If properly managed, tourism generated income can be tremendously beneficial to the host country and its local communities.  Tourism generated income can be used on a national and local level to better education, improve infrastructure, to fund conservation efforts, and to promote more responsible tourism. There are many countries in the world as good examples.

 

3) As tourism competition increases many tourism operators are differentiating themselves from their counterparts by offering tours and packages with an environmental twist, and supporting the conservation of the local area. This helps both the environment in dealing with the influx of tourists, but also helps to build a strong reputation for the tourism operator.

4) Tourism needs to be managed effectively. Most of the times, local governments are unable to prepare  in terms of  its  infrastructure for the huge influx of people that accompany a destination’s “busy season”, or for a special event. Traffic jams and crowded streets full of tourists can bring local life to a grinding halt. As population increases, without sufficient planning, tourism can put a strain on local facilities and infrastructure, which may prove difficult, and perhaps impossible, for a community to overcome. There are countless local communities the world over that has felt a loss of not only privacy, but the feeling that their town is no longer theirs.  Tourist destinations tend to jack up the prices of everything: food, hotels, drinks, services, etc.  Natural resources such as water, energy, food, and even habitat areas, which were possibly already in precarious positions, feel much more strain when a large population is using them, in addition to the locals. Also, the physical land may be at risk of negative effects. Soil erosion, pollution, discharge into water, deforestation, and issues with local species of animals and plants may come about due to the increased human activity.

 

Challenges of Tourism

 

Tourism is a highly taxed industry. Look at the percentage of taxes paid on an airline ticket, a hotel room, or a rental car. Security is a major challenge to the tourism and travel industry.  Today, safety is another major challenge facing the tourism industry. Mobile medical units may be needed, others will need special diets and readily available pharmacies open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Closely related to safety issues are health issues such as sudden outbreak of diseases that can easily cause tourism panics. Political conditions will continue to be a challenge for the tourism industry. On the international front, tourism will continue to have to deal with an ever more complicated and confusing political reality. Despite governments claiming that they support tourism, visa restrictions are becoming more complicated. Furthermore, no nation seems to be immune from street demonstrations, politically motivated riots, and acts of terrorism, wars or bureaucratic red tape.

Here  Palestine  is  a  big  question  mark  for  travellers and  tour  operators  alike. These circumstances not only give negative publicity to the host locale, but also make travel more difficult and less appealing. Travel stress brought about by poor travel conditions. One of the major challenges that tourism industry faces is the fluctuations in currency exchange rates. Tourism industry is seasonal in nature and does not guarantee round the year flow of income which hampers the overall business.  Inflation is rising at an alarming rate and restaurants have had to raise prices or lower their service. Transportation companies have been hit hard. The airline industry is especially vulnerable. Airlines depend on both the food industry and the fuel industry.

Today, with political uncertainties, there  is  a  big  question  mark  for  travellers and  tour  operators  alike. These circumstances not only give negative publicity to the host locale, but also make travel more difficult and less appealing. Travel stress brought about by poor travel conditions is a great challenge.  Some areas in some countries recently are classified as protected area for the conservation purpose. Such areas will not be a tourist location in future due to prohibition of entry by enforcing strict laws to avoid human intervention. It will lead to reduced number of tourists in such places.

Economic Development and Tourism

 

Globally the direct economic contribution of travel and tourism amounted to approximately USD 2.31 trillion in 2016. The direct travel and tourism contribution include accommodation, transportation, entertainment and other attractions of these industries. In recent years, the travel and tourism industry has contributed around seven trillion dollars to the global economy annually, nearing eight trillion in 2016. A highly profitable and valuable industry to the global economy, travel and tourism make a direct economic impact of more than two trillion dollars each year.

1) According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), some of the fastest-emerging tourism destinations can be found in Africa, including Namibia, Zambia and Angola. This is perhaps due to the realization that the benefits travel and tourism can provide for a country’s economy, or maybe because of the growing popularity of less-travelled destinations among global tourists. This is not to say travellers are not still visiting well-established tourism destinations in their millions – the number of overseas visitors to the United States, for example, is still increasing each year and is expected to exceed 40 million by 2018.

2) Tourism and Poverty Alleviation: In many countries, tourism acts as an engine for development through foreign exchange earnings and the creation of direct and indirect employment. Tourism contributes five per cent of the world’s GDP. It accounts for six percent of the world’s exports in services being the fourth largest export sector after fuels, chemicals and automotive products. Tourism is responsible for 235 million jobs or one in every 12 jobs worldwide.

In 2011, international arrivals grew by over four percent reaching 982 million, up from 939 million in 2010.In a year characterized by a stalled global economic recovery, major political changes in the Middle East and North Africa and natural disasters in Japan this is a discernible figure.

3) Tourism in many developing and least developed countries is the most viable and sustainable economic development option, and in some countries, the main source of foreign exchange earnings. Part of this income trickles down to different groups of the society and, if tourism is managed with a strong focus on poverty alleviation, it can directly benefit the poorer groups through employment generation of local people in tourism enterprises, goods and services provided to tourists, or the running of small and community-based enterprises, etc, having positive impacts on reducing poverty levels.

4) Tourism in the recent years has been characterized by two main trends; firstly, the consolidation of traditional tourism destinations, like those in Western Europe and North America; and secondly, a pronounced geographical expansion. There has been a substantial diversification of destinations, and many developing countries have seen their tourist arrivals increase significantly. Arrivals to developing countries accounted for 46 per cent of the total international arrivals in 2011. Tourism has become a major player in the economy of developing countries.

Here are some facts:

  • In 2011, international tourism arrivals in emerging markets and developing countries amounted to 459 million.
  • Tourism is the first or second source of export earnings in 20 of the world’s 48 economies.
  • In some developing countries, notably small island states, tourism can account for over 25 per cent of GDP.

 

5) Tourism is composed not only of leisure travelers but also other groups such as business travelers, and these non-leisure travelers often act and spend in the same way as leisure travelers. To some extent industry leaders are forced to react to circumstances beyond their control. Awareness of current challenges can help these leaders to prepare for eventual challenges and to seek ways in which to lessen the negative impact of exigent circumstances.  Some of the current challenges facing the tourism and travel industry are discussed elsewhere in this paper.

6) Palestine Tourism -Way forward: Now let us come to tourism developpemt in Palestine and its challenges and prospects. The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities work to develop the tourism through capacity building, marketing and promotion, rehabilitation of sites, and preservation of Palestine’s archaeology. The Ministry hosted the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) International Conference on Religious Tourism on June 14 – 15, 2015 in Bethlehem.  The platform of the Conference offered Palestine the chance to showcase its best by offering trips across the country for participants, and by giving the Palestinian private sector the opportunity to present the services it offers through an exhibition alongside the conference. Palestine was able to display the riches of its shining resources to the international key participants including tourism professionals and tourism academics. Also in 2015, at the General Assembly of the UNWTO in Medelin, Colombia, Palestine won the award for the Best Tourism Promotion Video for the Middle East.

7) An in-depth look at Palestine’s tourism potential reveals that the diversity of this small territory lays the groundwork for very powerful visits to the area under very many vivid themes. The traditional pilgrimage routes are, of course, the highlight of any spiritual journey to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, with the beacons of both faiths attracting thousands of tourists daily. But pilgrimage routes are highlighted also by visits of Sebastiya, Hebron, and Jericho as main destinations.  It is only natural that one may run into pilgrims at Saint George’s Church in Burqin or at the Maqam of Nabi Musa in the desert offering scope for adventure tourism. In reality, adventure tourism could be as soft as a photography tour and as challenging as a trek across the deserts of Palestine. Today, Palestinian tour operators and associations are showing high levels of creativity in suggesting a panel of products in Palestinian cities, villages, and natural landscape. We also see an emergence of cultural tours.

8) The Palestinian Territories have a high concentration of World Heritage Sites and large variety of tourist attractions. A relatively high volume of same day visitors does not convert into overnight tourists.   In fact, tourism accounts for USD 271million of annual revenue and 15,000 jobs. Currently marketing budget is very small. Hotel room capacity and occupancy has to grow manifold.  But unlocking the industry’s potential could increase overnight tourists’ manifold extent and it is a big challenge!

Policy Issues to Facilitate Better Performance:

Having seen  the  origin and  the  gradual development of  tourism as a very  powerful  socio-economic and cultural  instrument of development with  vertical and  horizontal linkages,  an effort is  made to flag  a few policy  issues  for the concerted  attention of  all  stake  holders. How would we facilitate holistically the ease of visiting a place in future with vertical and horizontal linkages? How would we ensure that feeling of priceless joy of visiting a place in relation to the objective?

1) There are very many grey areas confronting all stakeholders, which need to be addressed expeditiously by policy makers notably by the concerned governments. Under Agenda 2030, regular monitoring must be done to see if targets are achieved with appropriate trouble shooting mechanism in place.

2) As tourism is highly taxed industry, it must be realistically   rationalised on war footing.

3) Safety and security must be beefed up for all the players by creating congenial conditions.

4) Issuance of visa and such other travel documents may be proactively rationalised to make Agenda 2030 user friendly to deliver its mandate. There  are  numerous  cases  of  visa  rejection  to  middle  east  of late. Members of the same family do become victims of this tragedy.  My own  empirical  data  give  adequate  support to  substantiate  the  above  argument. From  an Indian  Hindu family,  while the  father  gets  visa,  mother and  two  children are denied  visa  for a  visit  to the  holy land  in  April  2018! It was further probed into. The  real reason is  the  mismatch between  the  number  of  tourists and  the   facilities  to  cater to  them  like  accommodation, etc  without   disrupting  the  local  population. The quaint essence is the mismatch between the tourist absorption capacity and the elastic supply.

5) The traditional pilgrim routes to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron and the like are to be highlighted and aggressively marketed.

6) Again for   adventure tourism, Palestine deserts to be profitably exploited for trekking etc.

7)  It is a truism that Palestine Regions have high concentration of World Heritage Sites. It must be showcased as niche market segment for high value   focus under cultural tourism.

8) Green protocol implementation to be spearheaded by   the governments and complied by all stakeholders.

9) Excellent digital connectivity is a precondition for any vibrant tourism industry. This is a priority area for Palestine too.

10) Now tourism is, by and large, provider- centric. It must change to a culture of tourist centric phenomenon.

11) The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) may be profitably exploited with   forward and backward linkages, as the knowledge society demands it holistically.

12) Scientific evidence warns of the looming threat of climate change and as such tourism sector to become proactively a game changer globally accordingly.

13)  The  menace of  religious  fundamentalism and terrorism  which has been plaguing the peaceful  co-existence in  many  a  place must be contained by  promoting Peace  Tourism in the  Middle  East. An  international Study  Dialogue Centre  of  Excellence  may be  set up  by the  UN in close  collaboration  with Israel and the  Palestine  authorities. A concept note on this proposition can be submitted on demand by the Sustainable Development Forum (SDF). A brief conceptual note is given in Annexure-1 under the name PRISAM for further follow up.

14)  The youth unemployment must be addressed in the region expeditiously. If  the  youth are  gainfully  employed,  they  have little  time for  disruptive  activities under  any banner of fundamentalism.

15)  Yoga may be taken up very seriously in schools and colleges for better health and discipline to beef up mental calibre.  It  is  suggested  to  set up an International  Yoga  and  Meditation Centre in  Jerusalem  and Bethlehem by the international  community. This among others would bring about peace and better quality life in an otherwise strife ridden society.

Acknowledgments:

Acknowledging the help received from others is a very hard job. During the draft paper preparation stage, I was helped by very many experts in the area of tourism. They included  Rev Dr Abraham Mulamootil; Justice Dr K Narayana Kurup; Dr Mrs Raji Paul; Mr Kannan K (former Director of ADB); Mr George Paul (CEO of Synthite); Prof Suzan Oommen; Prof Ibrahim Slaibi; Mr Rejimon ( an Israel/Palestine tour operator for nearly 20 years), Mr Ramamurthy Iyer;  Prof  PJ Mathews;Mr Tojo C V; Ms Beatrice N and Dr P N Geetha. To all these and those whom I have unintentionally but unkindly missed out, I express my special debt of gratitude.

 

Resume of Dr.  K M George: Former – UN Advisor www.drkmgeorge.com

Address: Mel Mana, (Karavattamangalam) P.O Ooramana, Kerala, India, Postal Code: 686663.
Contact: Cell +91-9947670887; E mail: melmana@gmail.com; Skype: drkmgeorge

Education: PhD in Economics; Work Experience: 45 years in India and abroad; Languages Known: Malayalam, Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Gujarati, Pidgin, and English. Areas of Specialization: Monitoring & Evaluation; Socio –Economic Surveys; Micro Finance; Poverty Reduction Studies; Studies on the impact of Sustainable  Development Goals of the United Nations and Tourism Policy.

 

Rural Interaction: Visited 7500 villages & Settlements (Interacted with 750,000 people in Afghanistan, India, Papua New Guinea & North Korea; Rwanda and South Sudan).

Publications:   97 Papers, two books & 55 Monitoring and Evaluation Reports; Attended & or chaired 7500 conferences. Membership in Professional Bodies: Indian Society of Agricultural Economics; Sustainable Development Forum-SDF. Listed in Marquis (USA) “Who’s Who in the World” as one of the highest achievers. Participated in a High Power Training programme on “Preparing for the Rehabilitation Effort in Afghanistan” in Italy, jointly organized by UNOPS, ILO, and University of York & Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 25th Feb to 9th March, 2002.

Countries Visited:   55 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America & Pacific.
Organisations worked with: Bombay University, Sardar Patel University, National Dairy Dev Board, Bank of Baroda, Punjab National Bank; Asian Development Bank, Govt of Papua New Guinea as advisor; UNDP, UNOPS, FAO, World Bank & Government of Rwanda as Advisor.
Currently working as:  President of Sustainable Development Forum.

Dr.  K. M. George; President of Sustainable Development Forum (SDF)

ANNEXURE-1: PRISAM

Palestine Religions’ Integration and Spiritual Actualisation Movement (PRISAM) Organised by Palestine Integrated Spiritual Tourism Association (PISTA) Programme:

(Integrated Spiritual Tourism Praxis Programme (Conducted at the Centre for Training and Integration) Main Objectives: • Religious Integration and Sharing • Social Integration and Inclusion • Cultural Integration and Re-imagining • History Re-reading and Co-reading • Art for Integration and Exchange • Sports for Revitalisation and Relativisation Activities and Programmes

Organise – Palestine Integrated Spiritual Tourism Association (PISTA)

Establish a centre to train and integrate the leaders, guides and organisers from Palestine for the Spiritual Tourism Praxis (PISTP) Programme

Create association with World Tour Centres, Guides, Agencies, and Groups

Orientation programmes for the Integrated Spiritual Tourists

Association with Tourist Centres and Destinations at Palestine

Coordination through: • UN Agencies • International and National Corporations • Funding Agencies • National and International Conferences • Newsletters • Web Portal, Social Media Promotion •

(Project Concept Prepared By: Rev. Dr. Abraham Mulamootil, Policy Advisor, Sustainable Development    Forum (SDF)   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Mulamoottil)