The objective of “Best Tourism Villages,” now in its second year, is to promote and enhance the role of tourism in safeguarding rural villages of up to 15,000 residents, along with their landscapes, natural and cultural diversity, knowledge systems, and local values and activities, including culinary.
The initiative also promotes transformative approaches to the development of tourism in rural destinations that contribute to sustainable development goals.
The UNWTO got 136 requests from 57 member countries for consideration by an independent advisory board. The Israeli Ministry of Tourism proposed Kfar Kama and Tzippori in the Galilee as well as Kibbutz Neot Semadar in the Negev.
Kfar Kama, founded by Muslims originating from the Caucasus, features unique architecture and a museum of Circassian culture. The community sponsors heritage and culture events including dance performances and tourist festivals.
The village, whose tourist infrastructure has been renovated with the assistance of the Ministry of Tourism, is full of restaurants, family riding attractions, a dairy offering workshops on cheese making processes and the Circassian Heritage Conservation Center, which offers tours of the old village alleyways, a sound and light show and tastings from the Circassian cuisine.
“For rural communities everywhere, tourism can be a true gamechanger in providing jobs, supporting local businesses and keeping traditions alive. The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO showcase the power of the sector to drive economic diversification and create opportunities for all outside of big cities,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.
The organization chose Kibbutz Neot Semadar as one of 20 villages that will receive support from UNWTO and its partners in upgrading its facilities for future consideration on the “Best Tourism Villages” list.