In this interview with Amir Katz, we cover a broad range of topics starting from his upbringing in the States, his Israeli roots and how he found his way to Israel, the importance of building relationships with guests as well as the challenge of being emotionally present while on tour. In addition, we talked about guiding the Arab-Israeli conflict, educational tourism, and Christian pilgrimage tourism. Amir shared with us his latest tourist initiatives – from a wine tour app in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, to group wine tasting tours and a wellness tourism project with his wife and yoga instructor Devra Katz. To learn more about Amir and these projects, please check out his website My Israel Wine Tours (https://myisraelwinetours.com/)
For this episode, I drove down to Jerusalem to interview licensed tour Guide Peter Gokhvat, who has been camped out and on hunger strike across from the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) and the Finance Ministry for over 40 days. Soft-spoken and humble, Peter discussed his upbringing, immigration to Israel from the former Soviet Union and laid out the demands that tour guides have regarding the current coronavirus crisis and the need for a clear, government-backed, exit strategy. He also brought us up to date on his recent meeting with the Minister of Tourism and other Members of Parliament (42 in all) who have visited the protest encampment and the steps that the government is taking to address the crisis.
Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, Dr. David Gurevich has been ahead of the curve in seeing the potential of online events to provide a virtual space for guides. So, it seems only appropriate that we met over Zoom to unpack what he has learned from this experience, as well as to discuss his activism on behalf of tour guides struggling to obtain their unemployment benefits. In addition, we discussed the benefits and potential pitfalls of being a tour guide with an academic background and why it is that guides are so central to tourism. A graduate of Haifa University, Dr. Gurevich is an archaeologist who conducts research on Jerusalem, studies Second Temple Judaism and the history of the first archaeologists. He also studied Christianity and ritual murders! He has published numerous articles and spent a year at Harvard University as the recipient of the prestigious Fulbright fellowship. If you wish to contact him to learn more about the events that he hosts or to invite him to lecture, he can be reached at: www.israelincolor.com
In this episode, I sit down with Mordechai Abraham to discuss current political efforts to unite all tour guides under a new umbrella federation or united front. Mordechai talks about his dedication to the State of Israel and how he and those of his generation do not take it for granted, but rather see it as a precious gift. He recounts his personal experiences surrounding the founding of the State, the War of Independence, his father’s escape from Germany, the loss of loved ones in the Holocaust, as well as his time on Kibbutz and as a principal of a vocational school. From there, we analyze the current unprecedented difficulties that tour guides are facing due to the Covid crisis and the ongoing political struggle to receive government recognition and support. You can contact Mordechai at firstname.lastname@example.org or by clicking on this link to his Facebook Page.
In this episode, I sit down with the indefatigable Haike Winter. Originally from Germany, Haike shares her fascinating story of how she has made her life in Israel and we discussed numerous topics such as life on the kibbutz, working as a guide with Christian pilgrim groups, relations between guides and drivers, the tourist economy of Israel, the Arab-Israeli conflict and our current uncertain future as guides in the face of the Covid crisis. Perhaps inevitably, our discussion also touched on what it is like to be a German living in Israel and guiding German tourists who are visiting Israel – especially with all the historical baggage that exists between Germans and Jews. We touched on sensitive topics such as visits to Israel’s Holocaust museum Yad Vashem, Holocaust fatigue, and the disturbing phenomenon of Holocaust inversion.
For more information on Haike and to contact her directly, you can check out her Facebook page –Haike Winter Tour Guide
In this week’s featured episode, I share my conversation with the brilliant and charming Myriam Nedjar Kadouche. Myriam is a veritable polyglot who is licensed to guide in no fewer than four languages and brings years of experience in guiding groups from all over the world. She shares with us about her fascinating multicultural upbringing and how her immersion in other cultures has impacted her guiding. Specifically, we ponder to what extent this background, with all its crosscurrents and inherent liminality, plays a role when guiding groups from vastly different cultures.
Together we tackle crucial topics such as guiding the Arab-Israeli conflict which then leads us to an important discussion of the role of tour guides. Is the goal of guiding to present facts, to provide an experience, or to raise questions and facilitate discussions? Lastly, our conversation inevitably comes around to the current Covid crisis and our hopes that in its aftermath there will be a renewed interest in smaller scale, people to people (P2P) type tourism, that highlights and engages local communities. Please check out Myriam’s webpage at eretzcanaan.com.
In this inaugural episode of Tour Guide Confidential, I sat down with Moria Gabsi of Foot for Thought (footforthoughts.com) to discuss the promise and pitfalls of ethnographic or cultural tourism. Contrary to the common view of Israel as a black and white battleground between Jew and Arab, the country is blessed with a rich cultural mosaic of numerous ethnic and religious groups that practice coexistence daily.
We discuss how cultural changes that stem from the forces of modernity can result in the loss of tradition and ask how tourism can be a mechanism for change to empower local communities. We tackle the inherent dangers of imposing Western values on local communities and perpetuating the motifs of the “disappearing native” while presenting an ahistorical “ethnographic present.”
Lastly, we talk about how the current coronavirus crisis has spurred us to pursue our interests in P2P (people to people) and “slow tourism” and we share our thoughts regarding the future of the tourism industry in the post-corona era.