Quotes: MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

Bethlehem eyes tourist boom after dark decade  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - AFP - 22/12/2013
No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!



(MENAFN - AFP) After a decade of unrest, Bethlehem has seen a surge in visits to Christ's traditional birthplace, raising hopes of a tourism bonanza in the West Bank town despite Israel's separation barrier.

The Palestinian territories' top tourist destination is a victim of the barrier which cuts off the town from nearby Jerusalem, just 10 kilometres (six miles) away.

Israel began work on its sprawling barrier -- dubbed the "apartheid wall" by Palestinians -- in 2002 at the height of the second intifada, or uprising.

It defends the construction as a crucial protective measure, pointing to a drop in attacks inside Israel as proof of its success.

Palestinian tourism minister Rola Maayah sees the barrier as a key obstacle to encouraging visitors to the town.

"Bethlehem, one of our main tourist attractions is circled by 27 settlements. As a result, we are surrounded by high walls, fences and menacing checkpoints which put tourists off," Maayah said.

"We could develop tourism, attract people from all over the world, but it's not possible because of the Israeli occupation," she added.

The expansion of nearby Israeli settlements has deliberately helped to isolate the city, Palestinians say.

But since a UNESCO decision in June 2012 to grant world heritage status to Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity -- hailed as a "historic" diplomatic victory by the Palestinians -- the town has been eyeing a tourist bonanza that could boost the local economy.

In Bethlehem, where nearly one quarter of its 25,000 residents are unemployed, two out of three households rely on tourism for their income.

Between 2011 and 2012, more than two million people visited the town. The record crowds brought much-needed revenues after a tough decade for tourism during the second intifada.

"There was a significant jump in tourism in Palestine in 2012 with an 18 percent rise in the number of visitors," Maayah said. A little over half of these were foreigners.

With 3,800 rooms, Bethlehem accounts for nearly half of the West Bank's hotel capacity. But the occupancy rate (65 to 70 percent) is unevenly distributed throughout the year.

"We are booked up in advance for Christian holidays, but there are lots of empty rooms the rest of the year," said the deputy head of the Bethlehem board of commerce, Fairouz Khoury.

To redress this imbalance, Vera Baboun, a Palestinian Catholic and Bethlehem's first female mayor since 2012, aims to encourage visitors to stay longer.

"Our visitors should know that Bethlehem is not just about the nativity," said Baboun.

The pilgrims -- who mostly come from Russia, the United States and Poland -- descend on the town by the coachload, queueing to see the Church of the Nativity, one of Christianity's oldest and holiest, leaving immediately afterwards.

Those who linger for more than a few hours are rare.

"This year our motto is 'Come home for Christmas,' which means: take the time to wander around the alleys of the Old City, talk to the residents, help them to live here," Baboun explained.

"Bethlehem is not a museum," she said.

Palestinian tourist guides have also complained they suffer because of the favourable treatment granted to their Israeli competitors.

Some 150 Israelis are authorised to work as guides in Bethlehem, compared with 42 Palestinians permitted to work in Israel and east Jerusalem, the chamber of commerce said.

"They take more than 80 percent of the market," complained Mohammed Awadallah, a Palestinian guide.

But Israeli authorities, who have long courted the lucrative market in catering to Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land, deny the accusations.

"We do everything we can so that Christians can visit the holy sites," Israeli Tourism Minister Uzi Landau said.


 


AFP




  MENA News Headlines
 Apr 30 2016 - Qatar's MPHC net profit up 83 percent in Q1MENAFN
(MENAFN) Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding Co. posted net profit of USD 58.28mn for the first quarter of this year, an increase of 83 percent.Furthermore, the increase was attributed to growth sales ...

 Apr 30 2016 - Aaml Co. net profit jumps 33.7 percent in Q1MENAFN
(MENAFN) Aamal firm, one of the GCC's fastest growing firms, proclaimed net profit of USD 42.18mn for Q1 of this year, a jump of 33.7 percent.Additionally, group profit were up 6.9 percent to USD ...

 Apr 30 2016 - Egypt, UAE to discuss relations in real estate projectsMENAFN
(MENAFN)Egypt and UAE will discuss real estate investment projects that UAE seeks to participate in.Moreover, these projects involve the New Administrative Capital, as well as housing projects in ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Omani power firm to build vital power facilityMENAFN
(MENAFN) Omani Musandam Power Company SAOC (MPC) will construct the Musandam Independent Power Plant (Musandam IPP) in the Musandam Governorate.As a high level official stated, the firm's strategy ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Saudi, French bilateral trade to reach USD13.6bMENAFN
(MENAFN) The Saudi-French Business Opportunities Forum taking place in Saudi Arabia delivers the finest stage to advance parts of mutual collaboration in many new areas.The two countries enjoy great ...

 Apr 29 2016 - KSA continues to prioritize low spendingMENAFN
(MENAFN) Saudi plans to return unspent money which was allocated in this year's budget for the purpose of cutting waste as state revenues weakens due to low oil prices.In the recent past, government ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar- El Jaish aim to dethrone LekhwiyaThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Lekhwiya players lift the Qatar Cup trophy in this May 2 2015 file picture. Doha: El Jaish will be looking for a repeat of their 2014 Qatar Cup success when they ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar Cup Trophy Tour stops at OoredooThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Doha: The Qatar Cup tour made its final stop at Ooredoo the official telecom partner of the Qatar Cup 2016. Staff and management took an opportunity to take photos and ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Al Rayyan rally to win Qatar Cup titleThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Al Rayyan SC players and officials celebrate while receiving the Qatar Cup after they beat El Jaish SC 21-25 25-18 25-17 32-34 18-16 in the final played at Ali Bin Hamad Al ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar- Emir Cup: Al Kharaitiyat Al Gharafa earn thrilling wins to advanceThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Al Sailiya’s Abdurahman Al Harazi (left) celebrates after scoring the first goal for his team during their Emir Cup third round match against Al Wakrah SC at Al Arabi ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Steinmeier doubts Trump's 'America first' planThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier gestures during a joint press conference with Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva (not seen) after their meeting ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar- Met predicts a hot day with some cloudsThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Doha: The weather forecast for Qatar valid until 6pm Thursday inshore will be hot during the day with some clouds offshore will be hazy to misty at places and partly ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar key to boosting Turkey-GCC tiesThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani met Turkey’s Prime Minister Dr Ahmet Davutoglu and his delegation at the Emiri Diwan yesterday. They discussed relations ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar- Emir welcomes King Mohammed of MoroccoThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani welcomes King Mohammed VI of the Kingdom of Morocco and his delegation at Hamad International Airport. Doha: Emir H H Sheikh ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar eyes 'best of the best' turf for 2022The Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) A worker tends to grass being grown at a research and development centre in Murakh to find the best playing surface for FIFA 2022 yesterday. Doha: Watching grass grow ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar discusses WTD eventsThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Doha: Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) yesterday held a meeting with UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to discuss Qatar’s preparations to host World Tourism Day 2017. ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar- Premier meets EU Counterterrorism CoordinatorThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Doha: Prime Minister and Interior Minister H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani yesterday met European Union Counterterrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar- QU University of Illinois sign dealThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) DOHA: An agreement signed between Qatar University College of Medicine (QU-CMED) and the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has established ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar- AZF Ramadan Sports Festival from June 10The Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) DOHA: Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) has added cricket and rugby to its annual Ramadan Sports Festival which starts on June 10. The two-week event will end on June 24 (5-19 ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar- First phase of mapping genetic code of citizens in final stageThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) By Fazeena Saleem DOHA: The initial phase of an initiative to map the genetic code of citizens for better diagnoses and treatment of diseases in Qatar has reached the ...

more...


 






Google

 
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network
Arabic MENAFN

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country

Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

Commodoties

Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks
 

Algeria 
Bahrain 
Egypt 
Iraq
Jordan 
Kuwait 
Lebanon
Morocco 
Oman 
Palestine
Qatar 
Saudi Arabia 
Syria
Tunisia 
UAE 
Yemen

Weather
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary


Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor

Events

Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters


 
© 2014 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help