Alternative Tourism Group
Beit Sahour, Bethlehem, Palestine
2008 (2nd edition) ISBN 9950-319-01-03, 455 pp.
$35 + shipping ($20 of the purchase price goes direct to ATG)
Publishing this Guidebook marks an important turning-point in presenting Palestine to visitors. The ATG (Alternative Tourism Group) presents the country from the inside.
The guidebook covers such key topics as the Land, its geography and resources.
- Palestinian history from prehistoric times until the present day
- Palestinian society in all its diversity
- the holy and historical sites
- sites of contemporary importance:
- Neighbourhoods, villages, the destroyed villages of 1948
- Refugee camps and Israeli settlements
- Contemporary culture.
The book contains information to facilitate encounters with the local population (including addresses of organisations, institutions and resource people), as well as practical information on internal travel, food, personal safety and the like. Not satisfying itself with simply providing long lists of sites, restaurants, hotels, taxis, and museums, the expertise of the ATG is harnessed to promote encounters of high quality, all carefully designed to connect with their particular agendas.
Tourism to Palestine still relies mainly on Israeli guides and guidebooks. Besides distorting basic information about the country's history and culture, and introducing hostile views about the Palestinian people, the domination that foreign tour operators have wielded over Palestinian tourism has meant that Palestine's own tour operators and vendors have seen little revenue from what is a major industry in the Palestinian economy.
When foreign tourists, carefully shepherded by Israeli guides, venture into Palestinian areas – today limited to Bethlehem and Jerusalem — they zip in and out without spending a night in Palestinian accommodation, without eating a meal in a Palestinian restaurant and without patronizing Palestinian stores or cultural venues. Visitors receive a biased and superficial picture of the political situation, and seldom visit Palestinians or their many interesting sites. If they relate to Palestinians at all, most guidebooks accord them only a scant reference, an abbreviated chapter at the end. Worst of all, but most common, Palestine is presented as merely a part of Israel itself.
This book resolves part of the equation by providing comprehensive guide to Palestine. Those of you who purchase the book and intend to visit Palestine are encouraged to become responsible tourists, helping sustain the Palestinian economy by visiting the length and breadth of the country, and patronizing Palestinian hotels, restaurants, guiding services, and other resources.