7. Conclusions

Tourist flows do not conform to the travel patterns of Jerusalemites, both spatially and temporally. Being segmented as it is, the different segments of the Jerusalem population are served by three different bus services, as well as by the LRT. Yet, none of these provides the services that would make all the historic and religious sites with which Jerusalem’s worldwide fame rests accessible to tourists. Rather, the public transport system, both existing and planned, is geared toward the needs of the three population groups that jointly are called Jerusalemites, thereby disregarding the fourth travel segment―the tourists.

There are two possible explanations to the oversight of the tourist travel segment in Jerusalem. The first is a professional oversight. Since transport planning tends to focus on peak hour travel during working days, public transport is geared toward such travel. The travel demand to tourist destinations during these peak hours is low, and hence they are not accounted for in the public transport plans. For this reason only tourist destinations that are in proximity to sites to which there is high demand in peak hours are well served.

The second explanation is political. Public transport provision has a political dimension. This is perhaps more poignant in Jerusalem then elsewhere (Shlay & Rosen, 2015). The lack of services to tourist destinations from this perspective can be attributed to the lack of interest in serving Christian pilgrims or as the lack of power of tourism interests in the city. As the results of this study show that marginalized sites cannot be differentiated by religiosity or denomination the first option is rejected. The second option requires further study. But it can be hypothesized that the heavy reliance on groups (whether pilgrims or not) and on high-end tourism, and the fragmented nature of the tourism industry in Jerusalem, result in the relative disinterest of tourism interests in the public transport field, and hence in the absence of a voice for the individual international tourist in the forums where public transport decisions are made. While a full analysis of both explanations is beyond the scope of this paper, it seems that both of them combined to explain the oversight of the tourist sector in the provision of public transport services in Jerusalem.

Still, several improvements in the LOS provided to independent tourists can be derived from this study. The most obvious is to make better utilization of the Palestinian bus system, which provides services to some of the under-served sites in east Jerusalem, such as Mount of Olives and Gethsemane. To this end the routes and schedules have to be displayed in English, and an English-language website that includes all these services should be set. A second, complementary, step is to provide integrated ticketing to all bus companies and the LRT available to tourists for various lengths of stay. A third, costlier option is to provide tourist-oriented specialized services such as frequent hop-on hop-off services, particularly in peak tourist season. Such a service, suggested long ago by Israeli and Mansfeld (2003), may be difficult to sustain due to the variances in tourist flows, and the political tensions in the city. A somewhat cheaper alternative may be shuttle services to the main LRT stations, such as operated by Yad Vashem. A prerequisite to the planning of such services should be a survey of independent tourists regarding their travel patterns and needs. At present such tourists often have to do with other alternatives (such as taxis, or one-day tours), that are often more expensive than the PT. But the utilization of these options may be due to the lack of better PT services, and hence a demand analysis is warranted.

As none of the PT improvement provisions suggested above is likely to be advanced by the transportation authorities, due to their focus on “regular” services to Jerusalemites, there will be a need to find someone who will seek to improve the services to tourists. Such a “champion” can be the Ministry or national company for tourism, the municipality, or a body created for this purpose at the behest of local tourism interests by either the ministry of the municipality. Thus, it seems that the main obstacle to the advancement of tourist-responsive public transport services in Jerusalem is the lack of an institutional actor who will make this a priority.

While this paper focuses on Jerusalem, the general question of how should tourists be served when the main tourist sites are not in proximity to the main nodes used daily by the local population requires attention. To this end the methodology used here, whereby CED was differentiated from the Euclidian distances by using LCM, and the origins and destinations were specified for the international individual tourists, can be used elsewhere. Clearly, such analyses can then be utilized to plan for tourist-oriented public transport systems (such as extensive hop-on hop-off buses). The question is whether the municipal authorities have the incentive to do so. In the highly segmented and highly contested Jerusalem scene tourist interests do not receive wide attention, and do not have sufficient political clout. In places where tourism has a greater role, or tourism-related interests have greater economic and political clout such services can be expected to be provided. However, an examination of this hypothesis remains for future studies.

NOTES

1According to the Incoming tourism survey: 2015 Annual report, 70% of tourists in Jerusalem stayed at hotels [19] Israel Ministry of Tourism. Incoming tourism survey: 2015 half year report 2016 22/03/2017; Available from: https://info.goisrael.com/en/incoming-tourism-survey-2015-pdf.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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