Judea and Samaria embrace smartphone tourism

1000s of visitors expected to enjoy ancient and natural sites can take advantage of mobile, multimedia materials.

iPhone 4 311 R (photo credit: REUTERS/Truth Leem)
iPhone 4 311 R
(photo credit: REUTERS/Truth Leem)
Visitors to Judea and Samaria should bring their smartphones along with bottles of water, if they want to learn about the biblical sites that dot Route 60.
Thanks to a program of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, new signs have been placed at selected spots along the highway, known as the Path of the Patriarchs.
Signs have also been posted at archeological sites in the settlements of Elon Moreh, Susisya and Shiloh as well as in Hebron and by the Lone Tree in Gush Etzion.
Each sign has a bar code that can activate smartphones, whose users have downloaded the free app Scanlife.
Once activated, smartphone owners can view videos describing the sites.
One can learn that in of spite of Susiya's desert location, in ancient times there were 40 ritual baths or that one can still draw water from a stone well at the site.
In Susiya, archeologists have also uncovered 100 underground living spaces, according to the video.
The signs with the bar codes were posted in advance of the hundreds of thousands of tourists who are expected to visit some 100 historical and natural sites in the West Bank over Succot, said Yigal Dilmoni, the council's deputy director.
There is a growing interest in tourist sites in Judea and Samaria, he said. Last year half a million people toured the region, he said.
“The path of the patriarchs along Route 60 connects important heritage sites that are important to the nation of Israel, and weaves throughout the story of every Jew,” Dilmoni said.
“The council intends to introduce the general public to this historic narrative of all the sites and their connection to the path of the patriarchs, in a new method that is attractive to the younger generation,” he said.
He continues, “Integrating YouTube videos along with technology that can be found on smartphones, transforms their visit in a pleasant and innovative way,” Dilmoni said.
Despite the technological facelift, most of the tourist events this Succot will not take place in cyberspace.
From Tuesday through Friday, from Mount Grizin in Samaria to wineries in Gush Etzion, visitors can enjoy musical festivals, street theater, guided walks, jeep tours and arts and crafts.
The nonprofit group Mishkefet, created last year by the council, has already organized 90 tourist buses from major cities across Israel for Succot, most of which are already booked, its director Benny Cohen said.