RESMYLE workshop emphasizes community participation to promote rural tourism in north of Jordan
The Mapping Touristic Sites in Bani-Kenanah Workshop, held between 14th and 28th October, aimed at increasing local community organizations’ role in promoting cultural and natural heritage sites.
 During the preparation phase of the worksop, RESMYLE team in Jordan held multiple meetings with representatives of community organizations in Bani-Kenanah district to discuss the benefit of the workshop to the local community. This meeting created the opportunity to co-design the workshop through collaborative efforts with community members from Kharja, Saham, Kofr Soum, and Aqraba villages.
 The participants visited four different villages in Bani-Kenanah district. The starting point for each visit was always at the local community association to highlight the necessity of engaging local NGOs in promoting tourism. When the participants visited Kharja village, they first arrived at Kharja Women's Cooperative Society represented by Mrs. Laila Al-Zoubi. A demonstration of soap making by Kharja women showed how local production can generate income for women and engage tourists.
 In Saham village, Mrs. Hiam Tawalbeh welcomed our participants at Sahem Women's Charitable Society. Mrs. Hiam and her colleagues discussed the challenges and assets for promoting their historical, natural, and cultural values. The participants had the chance to try Saham’s famous Makmoura meal and experience the story behind local food and its value to the village. Community members from the village accompanied the participants for a walking tour of the village. This experience highlighted how local knowledge is key to creating engaging and vibrant tourist experiences.
 The third visit focused on introducing the NEETs to agriculturally based activities focused on olives and pomegranates in Kofr Soum. First, the participants visited the Diamond Olive Mill and were able to see how olive oil is made using modern techniques. The olive oil season is a staple of Jordanian culture and promoting tourism villages with rich agriculture land must consider the role of olives in the everyday life of Jordanians. After that, the participants arrived at Kofr Soum Agricultural Cooperative Association for Pomegranate Producers. They were introduced to an example of a zero-waste production process in which an entire pomegranate is used to make such as coffee, paste, beauty products, etc. This experience allowed the participant to witness that sustainability is a core value of small villages and the potential of tourism to support further sustainable practices.
 The day in Aqraba was the last day of the field visits. Mr. Kayed Fayyad hosted the participants at Yarmouk Cultural Forum Association in Aqraba. Mr. Kayed introduced different local traditional crafts and he demonstrated the technique to create a tradition broom made from hay. During the demonstration, Mr. Kayed discussed the declining support and interest in traditional crafts and hand-made products and the pressure facing local villages to protect and promote these traditions.
 Mrs. Laila, Mrs. Hiam, and Mr. Kayed also joined the RESMYLE team twice during the working days at Jordan University for Science and Technology (JUST) hosted by our local partner, The Center of Excellence for Innovative Projects. During the first meeting, our participants and community representatives worked together to brain-storm ideas that can lead to community-specific tourism action plans. This process reaffirmed the importance of incorporating local knowledge in idea and plan development. At the end of the workshop, the participants presented their tourism action plans for villages in Bani-Kenanah. Overall, the final products created by the participant was the fruit of the collaborative effort between our participants and the local village communities.
The RESMYLE international workshop in Jordan highlighted the importance of incorporating local communities and social organizations in the development and implementation of RESMYLE activities. The process followed by JUST reinforced the necessity and benefits of including the voice of the community in all stages of the workshop.
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The workshop is part of RESMYLE project - Rethinking employment and social inclusion of Mediterranean youth through sustainable development - funded by the European Union's ENI CBC MED programme.