The Israeli Circassian community of Kfar Kama was included on a United Nations list of tourist villages recommended for visiting and released on Tuesday.
Compiled by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the 32 villages selected “are an outstanding example of a rural tourism destination with accredited cultural and natural assets, that preserve and promote rural and community-based values, products, and lifestyle and have a clear commitment to innovation and sustainability in all its aspects – economic, social and environmental,” according to the UNWTO web site.
Kfar Kama, with a population of around 3,300, is located in the Lower Galilee region, between the Sea of Galilee and Nazareth. It was founded more than 150 years ago by Muslim Circassians, originating from the Caucasus.
It features unique architecture and a museum of Circassian culture. With assistance from the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, the village as been holding tourist festivals where visitors can taste Circassian cuisine, watch traditional dances, experience a sound and light show, and join guided tours of the village.
In 2020, the Israel Antiquities Authority discovered the remains of a 6th century church which included a mosaic floor.
Kfar Kama is one of two Circassian villages — the other is Rehaniya, which is further north, a short distance from the Israeli-Lebanese border.
Israel’s Circassian population is approximately 5,000. Although they are Muslim, they serve in the Israeli military.
“The recognition of Kfar Kama as a tourist village puts Israel alongside other famous tourist sites around the world, The choice of the village by the UNWTO will transform it into a center for pilgrimage by many tourists and will have an important positive impact on the rural surroundings in the Galilee,” said outgoing Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov.
Separately, Neot Semadar, a kibbutz located in the Negev, qualified for the UNWTO’s Upgrade Program. The program provides support for 20 communities to improve gaps in their tourism.
Neot Semadar, north of Eilat, is known for producing organic food.