Tourism Boom in Israel - but what about Palestine?

Fred Schlomka - August 2008
According to the Israeli Tourism Ministry, from Jan.-July 2008 visitors to Israel have increased by 40% over last year, with over 1.7 visitors. The Central Bureau of Statistics reports that 260,000 people visited Israel in July alone. The Tourism Ministry's forecast for this year is 2.8 milion visitors.

Unfortunately there is readily available hard data regarding the number of tourists visiting the Palestinian Authority's areas (Area 'A' & 'B') of the West Bank. Israel does not keep such statistics and there is no data in English available on the website of the Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics or Tourism Ministry. The latest report in Arabic is for 2005. Such data is hard to compile in the first place because there are no Palestinian Border controls at the Checkpoints into major Palestinian cities, and of course the Israeli government controls Ben Gurion airport and the borders to Egypt and Jordan. The Palestinian Hotels Association and the Arab Hotels Association also have no available statistics on the number of hotel rooms

However it is certain that Palestinian Territories are not getting their fair share of visitors due to Israel's continued closure of the West Bank, and the policies of the Israeli tourist industry to discourage visits to the West Bank, except perhaps for a token 1/2-day visit to Bethlehem. This is reflected in the half empty hotels in major Palestinian cities while in Israel it's been tough to find a reservation during the summer. A recent client of stayed a few nights at the al-Yasmine Hotel in Nablus' Old City where there were only about 6 people staying.

It seems obvioud that the situation will not improve unless the closures are lifted to allow free flow of people between Israel and Palestinian cities, and between cities in the West Bank.

  • Banksy Tour to Bethlehem
    This tour will showcase surviving Bansky originals rendered on the Separation Wall that Israel built to restrict Palestinians from free movement around the West Bank and into Israel.
  • Gaza Border Tour
    See Gaza from up close, learn about the blockade & visit Erez crossing.
  • Galilee & Nazareth Tour
    Visit The Yardenit Baptism site & Roman Ruins, Explore life in the 40's by visiting a destroyed Palestinian village and meet Bedouin Communities.
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