Anita Andziak is a Swiss-based tour guide and tour leader, PhD candidate and Virtual Tourism expert. Her passion is the combination of artificial intelligence and tourism. We sat down in January of 2022 to talk about the promises and pitfalls of Virtual Reality both during the pandemic and as we stride into the metaverse of the 21st century. Based on her research and professional experience, Anita discusses the ways in which customer behavior, cultural changes and the geopolitical situation are pointing to new directions and tourism trends. I invite you to listen to this episode about VR tourism, where I push back a bit at the techno optimism surrounding this cutting edge technology while also learning about many of the benefits that this growing sector in global tourism offers. To contact Anita and to explore Dokodemodoors where she is employed click on the respective hyperlinks.
In this episode, I sat down with Aliza Bellehsen Avshalom in her beautiful home in the Galilee for a wide ranging discussion based on her decades of experience as a tour guide in Israel. Among other topics, we talked about Aliza’s fascinating familial connection to Israel, growing up in New Jersey and what led her to train as a tour guide. We discussed her background of working with youth tours and educational tourism; environmental tourism and her love of hiking and the Land of Israel; cultural and ethnographic tourism and her desire to connect with her neighbors in a very multicultural and religiously diverse Galilee; the role of religion in tour guiding and her experiences as a religious Jew guiding devout Christians; multigenerational family tours; and the role that gender may play in tour guiding. In addition, we discussed guiding styles, changes in tour guide training, studying the Talmud and what makes Israel special. Aliza can be reached directly either by email at: email@example.com or through her excellent “Israel Paths and People” website where you can see the gamut of the fantastically interesting tours that she offers.
In this episode, Yoni Shapira shares his rich, decades long involvement in tourism. He recalls how, as an oceanography student, he entered into this field as well as his long model making career or “life in miniature” at Mini Israel and elsewhere. Most importantly, we talked about the split between Guides focused on Incoming Tourism and those who work with the Domestic Tourism market and how this led to the creation of the organization Moreshet Derekh or the Israeli Incoming Tour Guide Association that Yoni currently heads. We spoke about the difficulties of this position in unprecedented times and the organization’s attempts to lobby for compensation for tour guides. As part of this we also had an in-depth discussion on the difference between incoming and domestic tourism and whether domestic tourism should rightly even be considered tourism. We discussed how guiding Israelis requires a completely different skill set from guiding foreigners and why it can often be so challenging in practice. Lastly, among his many talents Yoni is an excellent researcher and scholar and he recounted how he discovered the hotel where Mark Twain was based in Jerusalem in 1867 and how this was the impetus for his book “Tourists, Travelers, and Hotels in 19th-Century Jerusalem.” You can reach Yoni through LinkedIn or by email at: Lhs.firstname.lastname@example.org
In this episode I met with Tamar Linchevsky, a consummate storyteller who has been guiding for some thirty years. Unique in her approach to guiding, she takes her guests on inner and outer journeys of discovery based on the ideas of Joseph Campbell’s archetypal “Hero’s Journey”. In our conversation, we discuss the current challenges and Tamar shares some of her own inspirational journey as well as the role that archetypal stories play in our lives. In addition, I provide the latest update on the tourism sector in the episode’s introduction. Specifically, I discuss the government mismanagement of the sector and the current challenges surrounding the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Tamar can be reached at email@example.com or through her webpage at https://www.tamlin.co.il/en/.
In this episode, Tour Guide Confidential Host Dr. Eyal Dujovny has a conversation with Amir Katz and talks about his background and upbringing, how he got into guiding and what kind of a guide he is. Dr. Dujovny explains the impetus for this podcast, the way in which it was a Corona-times project and the importance of building a digital library that is an oral history of these trying times and episodes that serve as a calling card for guides. Moreover, he talks about his favorite places to guide, favorite groups to lead and recalls some of his more interesting guests. He discusses his decision to live in Israel and what is unique about guiding there – whether it is the wide variety of people, cultures and religions or the fact that it is such a misunderstood place. Lastly, he discusses his academic background and how he sees his role as a tour guide less as someone who can share facts and more as a cultural broker that brings people together. You can contact Dr. Dujovny through the Tour Guide Confidential website, by mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by Facebook at “Israel with Eyal”.
I sat down with Elinoar Nitzani to discuss the fascinating trajectory that eventually led her to a career as a tour guide. A polyglot who guides in four languages, Elinoar shares her interesting perspective as someone who has, from an early age, lived in various places around the world. Passionate about the natural world, Elinoar relates how she pursued a degree in agriculture and how this eventually led her to the budding new field of agricultural tourism. As a leader in agricultural technologies, Israel has become a Mecca for those interested in the latest innovations in food production. Elinoar, with her deep knowledge of this subject, is uniquely placed and at the forefront of this new niche in tourism. Lastly, we spoke about the role of guides as ambassadors for their countries, the challenges and advantages of guiding as a woman, and the ongoing corona crisis. Elinoar is available at email@example.com.
In this episode, I sat down with Ori Unterman, to discuss her rootedness as a 7th generation Jerusalemite and her passion for guiding in this truly unique, complex, and holy city. Few guides know the city as well as she does, and we discussed what is special about guiding in Jerusalem as well as how the city – which is usually heavily touristed – has weathered the ongoing corona crisis. In addition, we raised the issue of gender and how it can affect the choices that guides make when it comes to the types of tours that they guide. Lastly, we discussed Ori’s recent exciting project of live tours in the Mahane Yehuda Market as well as had an in-depth talk about the advantages and limitations of Virtual Tourism. You can contact Ori by firstname.lastname@example.org.
My friend and colleague Rinat Bloom sat down with me for a wide-ranging talk in which we discussed her eclectic background, various experiences as a tour guide, her insatiable curiosity and thirst for knowledge, as well as our unbridled love for our adopted hometown of Haifa. In the episode, Rinat shares how she found her true passion as a tour guide and how the current coronavirus crisis has upended the tourism sector. We talk about her experience of guiding at the Atlit detention camp and the importance of branching out from the typical packaged tours to visit lesser-known tourist attractions. We discuss shifts in tourism in our lives and agree that our guests are less interested in ticking off a checklist of “must-see” attractions in favor of opportunities to meet and form real connections with local people. She shares with us the challenges of guiding youth in the Israeli school system and her attempts to impart a deeper connection to the Land of Israel. She highlights her focus on Haifa and the surrounding areas and her hopes that tourists will return after the current crisis to discover all that this hidden gem of a city has to offer. Lastly, Rinat reflects on the challenges of the past year and relates the struggles of balancing a work-life balance in an industry that can often take us away from our families for weeks at a time. To contact Rinat, please check out her Facebook and Instagram pages under Rinat Blum or on Facebook at Israeli Moments.
I sat down with Daniel Rubenstein to discuss the interesting path that led him from the United States to Israel and from a career in Israel advocacy to his current role as a licensed Israeli tour guide. Daniel holds a degree in Middle Eastern studies, worked for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington, and immigrated to Israel in 2011. Daniel served in the Spokesperson’s Unit of the Israel Defense Forces, where he pioneered the unit’s use of social media during the 2012 and 2014 military campaigns against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. His contribution was showcased in the book War in 140 Characters. Eschewing a reactive policy that attempts to respond to every accusation directed at Israel, Daniel discussed his “bottom up” and “show, don’t tell” guiding philosophy. His approach is based on the seemingly simple principle that guides should focus less on the things that they know and more on what their guests don’t know. Lastly, we discussed the many contributions of the Birthright program and the reasons why he, like previous guests, have opted to take a step back from guiding Birthright groups. Daniel can be reached via his website dprpr.com, on Twitter at paulrubens, and on Instagram at rubyguidesisrael.
I sat down with Ihab Zeidan and we explored the question of where culture, religion, ethnicity, and language intersect and what role this plays in Ihab’s guiding as a member of the Druze community. Ihab lives in the town of Usfiya located on Mount Carmel on the outskirts of Haifa and it is one of 17 or so Druze-majority villages in Israel. For those who are not familiar with the Druze religion or its beliefs, Ihab is a fantastic guide with a deep knowledge of his culture and traditions, as I am sure will be obvious to anyone who listens to this episode. The Druze self-identify as Arabs, and in addition to Israel, large Druze communities exist in Lebanon, Syria and less so in Jordan. Druze have long suffered discrimination and persecution but they pride themselves on being loyal and patriotic citizens of the countries in which they reside. Together we explore these cross currents in an episode that provides another important perspective to understanding this region and the challenges that guides face when guiding the Arab Israeli conflict. You can contact him at: email@example.com