CROSSDEV: marking the way along the Palestinian Heritage Trail
On 21 of October 2020, Palestinian Heritage Trail (PH Trail) Trail Development team started waymarking its five new developed hiking segments from Beit Mirsim to Artas, passing sixteen Palestinian villages. Finally, the waymarking of the new five segments, a total of 60 km long trail was completed by the beginning of December, 2020. The Trail Development team jointly worked with representatives from the local councils of the designated villages to assure a professional waymarking.
Zaid Azhari, PH Trail staff, shared his experience in waymarking Beit Mersim to Artas segment and the local community’s involvement:
People of the local communities were very excited to meet us and understand how to utilize the trail to enhance tourism. They were eager to introduce their gems of historical, heritage, cultural and political landmarks, so the trail passes through them. My personal unique experience was the Palestinian hospitality, even though I’m a Palestinian myself and I am familiar with it, but theirs exceeded my expectation! The trail aims to highlight Palestinian generosity, and I was more than honoured to experience this by my own people. For example, on our first day waymarking, two elder women came up to us with a warm welcoming heart while we were working, not knowing who we are or what the PH Trail is, but insisted on offering us breakfast and tea.
Local ladies and kids offering tea and welcoming PH Trail staff
Waymarking is essential to any hiking trail so as to guide hikers accurately and confidently through their trip. This method helps hikers to avoid getting lost or unintentionally trespassing, which guarantees a safe, comfortable and enjoyable walking experience.
Within the framework of the EU-funded CROSSDEV project, PH Trail developed and published a video showing the efforts that have been put into waymarking and highlighting the beauty of the trail. The goal of the video is to raise awareness about the developed trail nearby communities, and most importantly to introduce the local communities to these way markings, their location and their meanings, as they will start seeing them around their land and community. Local councils around those 5 segments have shared the video on their social media platforms, to help serve the same purpose of awareness.
It was such an exciting experience to see our barnstorming plans getting implemented on ground. People from the local community were already curious and asking why we were waymarking, and they expressed strong desire in exploring the beauty of the trail with us. Honestly, I already started seeing the potential of the trail, as it is becoming an important talking point to people in the community.
Waymarking along the new segment of the PH Trail in Palestine
Since the completion of the waymarking, three local councils have already published on their social media platforms follow up appreciation news regarding the waymarking and the efforts of Palestinian Heritage Trail. Some have shared news and others shared videos reflecting how important this milestone is in developing their community-based tourism.
A Palestinian citizen of Beit ‘Awa (one of the villages the trail passes through) said as comment on the video: “Our country is very rich with archaeological sites, but they are downgraded by not getting the needed attention from the local councils or civil institutions. Beit ‘Awa for example, has many archaeological treasures reflecting the rich and versified heritages we had. Going through the Canaanite, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic periods, have left us a historic bridge, church, ancient graveyards and many more archologies the city can offer.”
The trail aims at highlighting and raising awareness of such existing treasures. Following CROSSDEV overall purpose and objective – in Palestine as well as in the other implementation countries, Jordan, Italy and Palestine – we hope that this work will benefit the local community as planned, and achieve intentional social and economic outcomes.