International Conference on Tourism and Archeology Kicks Off

A three-day conference on archeology and tourism held at Birzeit University explored the linkage between tourism, archaeology and cultural heritage in various projects by local and international teams.

The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquity, the History and Archeology Department at Birzeit University, and the Network for Experiential Palestinian Tourism Organization jointly sponsored on March 13, 2016 the International Conference on Archeology and Tourism in Palestine.

The conference, which brought together a number of international and local researchers and academics, discussed research projects in archeology, tourism and cultural heritage in the Palestinian context. It also tackled related issues, including community-based tourism and rural tourism. It also engaged ways to unify the concepts connected to tourism, exchange of expertise and identifying new fields such as community and rural tourism.

Birzeit University President Abdullatif Abuhijleh opened the conference by talking about the importance of archeology as a main source of maintaining and introducing a nation’s identity. He also emphasized the prominent role of the tourism sector in supporting the Palestinian economy.

Abuhijleh pointed out that the conference tackles contemporary issues in the field of tourism and cultural heritage. “Palestine faces a real academic problem in these topics. The lack of specialized professors in tourism and archeology can hinder the process of development in such beneficial sectors.”

Chairman of the Network for Experimental Palestinian Tourism Organization, Raed Saadeh, reaffirmed the organization’s mission of supporting and promoting Palestinian tourism and cultural development by enhancing competencies and capacities.

Minister of Tourism and Antiques Rula Maayah pointed out that both archeology and heritage are core elements in the country’s economic development. “The ministry has been working toward developing tourism in a comprehensive and integrated approach that expresses our legacy and identity.”

Maayah assured that the ministry has been renovating a wide number of cultural and heritage sites in Palestine to attract and nourish the tourism sector that has serious positive effects on economic prosperity.

Researcher and professor at Yarmouk University Omar Al Ghoul talked about the Dead Sea Scrolls that were first discovered in the 1940s and 1950s. Israel has kept them in an archeological museum in Jerusalem.

These scrolls, Al Ghoul says, are part of the history of the Levant and Palestine, as it has valuable religious, cultural and historical information that are related to the Palestinians.

Al Ghoul said that Western scholars have produced almost 5,000 books about these scrolls, while Arabs have not given the subject a serious attention. “It is not enough to discover heritage and scrolls, we need to study, analyze and discuss to know how to maintain it and promote it well.”