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Israel’s Kfar Kama Makes Global List of “Must See Villages”

January 24, 2023

by: Janet Aslin

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Circassians from Kfar Kama.

Tuesday, 24 January 2023 | For the second year running, the UN’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has designated a group of small villages from around the world as important global tourist sites. In 2022, there were 136 nominations from 57 countries. And Israel’s Kfar Kama was one of just 32 chosen from 18 countries!

Kfar Kama is an interesting place. One hundred and fifty years ago, Circassians who were fleeing the genocide and ethnic cleansing that resulted from a Russian invasion of their north Caucasus homeland settled in the lower Galilee region. Today, Kfar Kama is one of the two remaining Circassian villages in Israel. It is home to roughly 3,000 residents and has retained its cultural identity to this day.

Although they cling to their culture and are Sunni Muslims, the Circassians are also fiercely loyal to Israel. In 1948, the Circassians chose to align themselves with the Jewish population and continue to serve in the army until this day. One man told i24NEWS, “We have three hats: Circassians, Muslims and Israelis.”

Israel’s Ministry of Tourism has been instrumental in helping the village preserve its heritage and attract visitors. The town has a museum of Circassian culture, hosts guided tours and has restaurants offering the unique food of their community.

Now, thanks to the UNWTO award, Kfar Kama has advanced to the next level: global tourism. The agency’s website states one of its goals is the recognition of “rural destinations that are embracing tourism as a driver of development and new opportunities for jobs and income, while preserving and promoting community-based values and products.”

Zurab Pololikashvili, a Georgian diplomat who serves as the UNWTO Secretary-General, said, “For rural communities everywhere, tourism can be a true game changer in providing jobs, supporting local businesses and keeping traditions alive.”

Kfar Kama and the 31 other 2022 winners will participate in an award ceremony next month in Al-‘Ula, Saudi Arabia, another one of the villages chosen. Representatives from Israel’s tourism ministry and Kfar Kama have been invited to attend the event.

Looking to the future, each country was allowed to nominate three villages whose population is less than 15,000. In 2022, the other two villages nominated by Israel were Zippori in northern Israel and Kibbutz Neot Semadar, located just 60 kilometers (37 mi) north of Eilat.

Neot Semadar was selected as one of 20 additional villages that will receive some UNWTO support and may qualify for the 2023 list. If successful, Israel will then have two villages in the UNWTO Best Tourism Villages Global Network.

Posted on January 24, 2023

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 24, 2023)

Photo Credit: DJ Adam photographer/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

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