Code of Conduct
Travelling in the Holy Land is a way to discover the everyday life of men, women and children living in an intolerable and deeply unfair situation.
We are committed to ensure the best performance during your trip. We invite you to follow the following moral contract. It’s not a metter of making feel guilty the visitors as you are, but just to try to maintain a healthy natural and human environment, safe and honorable for all. Responsible tourism is not a trend or a « marketing » gadget, it is a necessity. From our point of view, a friendly population that recognizes tourism as a great economic resource sufficient to respect their dignity and their living environment, is a big step forward …
Tolerance and respect for difference:
Respect the others is to accept their differences, to admit that the other stand as external to us but having our same dignity.
When we meet someone while traveling, it is important to recognize and respect cultural difference and to enrich each others.
Hla Tours join the vision of the Palestinian Initiative for Responsible Tourism
The Palestinian Initiative for Responsible Tourism (IPTR) is a network of organizations, associations and government agencies involved in promoting responsible tourism in the Holy Land and supporting this approach to tourism. We intend to transform the current characteristics of tourism in the Holy Land by encouraging pilgrims and visitors to include Palestinian towns and villages in their itinerary in order to achieve a more equitable distribution of tourism incomes among all persons in the region. Believing that tourists, as their guests, can enrich each others by human encounters, we invite travelers to meet the Palestinian people and to discover their culture. We strive to create opportunities to involve local communities in tourism activities and to let them get a fair income. We believe that the protection and preservation of the environment is of utmost importance, and we seek, therefore, to develop tourism services that are environment friendly. We call on all stakeholders to engage in responsible practices and to renounce all forms of exploitation. Our goal is to promote, in Palestine, a fair and responsible tourism that benefits the Palestinian people, pilgrims, tourists and any other stakeholders involved in tourism in this country, without harming local communities.
CODE OF CONDUCT
A. Travelers who visit the Holy Land
When planning a trip to Palestine, you should consider the following points:
1. Choose a « balanced » itinerary that allows you to visit and stay in different places.
2. Inform yourself and gather informations by reading guides, travelogues, newspaper articles about recent events.
3. Contact some Palestinians to obtain updated information on the current situation, security, history, culture and customs.
4. Plan your trip with a willingness to learn and not just to observe. Get rid of your prejudices.
When traveling in Palestine, the fact of adopting an open and respectful attitude toward the people you meet, the environment and communities that welcome you, will help making your trip good for yourself as tourists as well as for locals.
5. Your attitude:
- Respect the local culture and get to know it. Although it is generally welcome to take pictures, be aware of the sensitivity of the people you want to photograph: always ask their permission.
- Be sensitive to local customs. Follow the dress code and dress modestly.
- Get in touch and spend time with local people. Be aware that your own cultural values may differ from their ones. For example, they may have different concepts of time, private space, how to communicate and society. They are not wrong or are not « inferior », they are just different.
6. Your behavior:
- Beware of emotional and instinctive reactions, such as giving money out of compassion. This can be offensive.
- Make sure you meet local communities defending their dignity and do not hesitate to discuss with them.
- If you want to support these communities, do it responsibly, without encouraging them to change their habits to adopt yours.
- When you visit the holy places, let yourself be guided by members of different religious communities.
7. Your use of natural resources:
- Cooperate with local people to preserve natural resources, that are precious. Commit yourself to use them sparingly as far as possible.
- Be willing to live by local standards rather than hoping the same conditions as in your city or country.
8. Support the local economy:
- Appreciate the local skills and retribute them adequately.
- Buy local products.
- Contribute to let tourism have positive benefits for the local community.
- Use transportation, guides, accommodations and local restaurants, buy at the local markets to encourage the local economy. Give tips where it is the rule.
9. Remember that the people you meet there, they have been living under Israeli military occupation for many years. Be careful about it when discussing the situation with them and listening to their views.
10. Take as a model the pilgrims’ way of travelling: take your time and try to share the daily life of locals.
When you return from a trip to Palestine do not hesitate to share your experiences with friends and people around you. Your Palestinian host will be particularly pleased that you remember them and that you talk about their way of life as your own discoveries. This way you will strengthen the human side of tourism and the benefits to communities and individuals.
11. Share your experience:
- Consider creating links between your community and the community you have visited.
- Tell the story of the people you met.
- If you traveled in groups, share it among the participants and make an evaluation of your trip.
- Share your experience with your family, tell it to your community, write articles.
12. Respect the commitments you made during your trip:
- Remember the promises you made to the people you met on the spot and follow them.
- Keep in your mind the people you met, pray for them and mobilize for them when necessary.
13. Let yourself be enriched by the experiences you have had:
- Challenge your prejudices, both those you had before your trip than those who may have formed during your stay abroad.
- Learn to deal with prejudice and injustice when you are facing them.
14. Take Action:
- Learn about your country’s relations with the Middle East and responsibilities in the current situation. Interpellez your government when his attitude seems unfair.
- React when you are faced with assertions and judgments with which you disagree. For example in tourist brochures, in media that lack objectivity, or in conversations that express cliches about the situation in Palestine.
B. Palestinian tourism sector
While Palestine has been a destination for travelers for centuries, the development of a tourism industry that provides services to a large number of tourists is quite recent. Indeed, new additional receptive capacities continue to emerge. Nevertheless, we believe the time has come to work for a sustainable development sector. Therefore, as representatives of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities as well as private organizations, associations and organizations of civil society, we call on all tourism stakeholders in Palestine to commit to the practices and policies introduced in this Code of Conduct.
Your behavior towards tourists: treat honestly and with respect.
1. Respect the Religious Beliefs of visitors and freedom of worship. Be sensitive to cultural diversity. Follow the dress and food preferences of visitors.
2. Tour guides: give accurate information to tourists and useful dimensions that include religious, cultural and social life of Palestine. Do not just tell the stories that visitors want to hear or resume stereotypes. Instead, confront visitors to different interpretations. Be aware of your unique role as a tourist guide: visitors will draw conclusions about the Palestinians on the basis of your behavior.
3. Local communities, guides and tourism employees: help tourists when they need it. Be hospitable. Interact with visitors at the human level, do not limit your contacts with economic and monetary exchanges.
4. Public authorities: the tourist police and other official bodies should treat tourists with respect.
5. Public authorities and local communities: try to prevent irresponsible and negative behaviors toward tourists, such as begging and thefts.
Your responsibility to local communities. Take care of the spirit of local companies toward the people they employ and the communities which they take their resources from.
6. Pay fair salaries.
7. Distribute the incomes equitably among producers, suppliers, sellers and intermediaries.
8. Sell products and handicrafts to local or national tourist. Be sure to set up the fair trade standards.
9. Develop means of communication and opportunities for interaction between the Palestinians and tourists.
Support the cultural and human exchanges, they will increase the benefits from tourism for Palestinian communities.
10. Promote the involvement of local communities in tourism, such as homestays, etc..
11. Promote networking of churches and international organizations to present the Palestinian perspective, in order to offer an alternative vision to the Israeli’s one that visitors are accustomed to.
Improve the Palestinian tourism: create new routes, offer original tracks, and make it promoted to tourists.
12. Develop the professional skills of staff of the tourism industry and his knowledge of the identity and Palestinian history. Educate people who are in contact with tourists (guides, taxi drivers, hosting families, etc..).
13. Integrate culture and heritage preservation in the tourism programs. Improve the image of Palestine by organizing festivals, conferences, workshops, and use these events to encourage tourists to stay longer in Palestine.
14. Improve the promotion of local handicrafts and national products.
15. Pay attention to the fact that programs of Palestinian travel agencies must include the various aspects of Palestine, that is to say religion, economics, politics, cultural heritage and recreation.
Our responsibility toward the environment
16. Make sure that the activities of hotels, guest houses and restaurants are in line with ecological principles, and tell your guests about the standards that you comply. Educate the Palestinians to environmental issues and offer an environment friendly service.
Responsible practices in the tourism industry
17. Increase transparency in business practices and practice healthy competition that does not harm the tourism value.
18. Tourists are entitled to fair prices and a pleasant stay.
The establishment of the Code of Conduct
The Code of Conduct has been prepared following extensive consultations, both locally and internationally, conducted with organizations and individuals who are committed to responsible tourism, and justice. It is a opened document that invites engagement, comments and reactions to be continuously improved to achieve its objectives. You can help us improve it by sending your feedback.
It consists, according to World Tourism Organization, « to meet the needs of tourists and those in host communities while protecting the environment and developing opportunities for the future. »
Tourism « integrated »
It relies on the integration of tourism in local life and for development. Precursor of sustainable tourism, it is opposed to tourism.
This is a recent concept that refers to the fair trade. It offers a decent wage for all direct and indirect actors who work for you. The goal is to reduce the trade’s between rich and consuming regions and poor producing regions. It should be mentioned that, on average, only 150 euros remain in the host country from a tour package costing about 800 euros, while the difference goes into the pockets of intermediaries.
It highlights all the elements that constitute the identity of a country. It assumes that activities are managed mainly by local people.
It is a concept to describe a journey of discovery in a preserved nature, visiting some natural environments relatively intact. One of the foundations of ecotourism is the conservation of the natural environment, combined with financial assistance or technical voluntary contribution. The aim is to support a sustainable regional economic development while respecting wildlife, flora and traditional cultures.
It is defined by some groups of activists who do not hesitate to boycott countries or regions they consider politically incorrect. The introduction of tourists in natural areas uninhabited, inhabited by people with a lifestyle of tribal form or having a unique environmental character, must be by small units in order to minimize disruption as much as possible.
Touch with the eyes
Do not take pictures of people isolated without having received permission. Do not agree to pay to take a photo because it induces mercantile unsavory habits. It is recommended not to promise to send photos to persons concerned if you can keep this commitment (by sending mail etc.)