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Palestine: “Bethlehem and Jericho are far from the violence in Gaza…”

Carte Blanche to Mr David Sprecher, lawyer


On the day after the ceasefire between Israel and Palestine, Mr David Sprecher met the Palestinian Minister of Tourism, Mrs. Rula Ma’an, in Bethlehem. He shares his impression on the tourism situation and the will of authorities to continue their cooperation to develop tourism between Israel, Palestine, and Jordan.



The city of Jericho, like Bethlehem, has always been a haven of peace. Located a few cable lengths away from Jordan via the Allenby Bridge 3 km from the city and leading to the Dead Sea or even the mythical site of Petra. Photo wikipedia Tamar Hayardeni (Tamarah)
The city of Jericho, like Bethlehem, has always been a haven of peace. Located a few cable lengths away from Jordan via the Allenby Bridge 3 km from the city and leading to the Dead Sea or even the mythical site of Petra. Photo wikipedia Tamar Hayardeni (Tamarah)
Once the ceasefire was concluded between Israel and the islamist movement, Hamas, in Gaza, I immediately headed to Bethlehem, located only 4 km from Jerusalem.

In order to meet, on one hand, with my moderate Palestinian friends from the tourism sector, and on another with the Minister of Tourism of the Palestinian Authority, Mrs. Rula Ma’an.

Mrs. Ma’an who had successfully led the Palestinian delegation at the IFTM Conference in Paris last year, has been leading this Ministry in the Christian Holy City of Bethlehem.

Far, very far from the violence in Gaza. A city that breathes and lives to the beat of tourists and devotees.

An opportunity to not only see and feel that during this last conflict, Bethlehem remained extremely calm, but also to note that the two protests that took place in the city in no way lauded support for Hamas, but only Peace and a return to order in the region.

While the city’s hoteliers displayed a drastically low occupancy rate during the summer months, they are also showing, very surprisingly, full occupancy for the holidays of Christmas 2014 and…. Easter 2015!

The Palestinian authority to attend the IFTM conference

And it was beautiful to witness the few groups of European tourists visiting the Church of Nativity.

But let’s return to our meeting with the Minister of Tourism.

Bethlehem that carries no less than 35 hotel has witnessed the opening of new establishments adhering to 4 star European standards (such as the Grand Park Bethlehem or the Manger Square Hotel) and even 5 star boutiques like the impressive Jacir Palace (previously under the Intercontinental banner.)

Hotels with great quality service and unbeatable prices (an average of 35 USD per person per night for a double room and half-board in a 3 star hotel.)

The Palestinian authority will attend the IFTM Conference but less actively.

It looks to the future with the same intentions as before the conflict in Gaza meaning for an extended cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian professionals in all activities of the tourism sector.

We must also make note of the excellent coordination that has never ceased between the Palestinian and Israeli Ministries because, let’s admit, the two destination are intimately linked even if only for logistical reasons.

Palestine combined with Israel and Jordan

David Sprecher and the Minister of Tourism of the Palestinian Authority, Mrs. Rula Ma’an - DR
David Sprecher and the Minister of Tourism of the Palestinian Authority, Mrs. Rula Ma’an - DR
The destination of Palestine can be combined with the visit of holy sites in both the Palestinian territories and Israel.

Also, the city of Jericho, like Bethlehem, has always been a haven of peace. Located a few cable lengths away from Jordan via the Allenby Bridge 3 km from the city and leading to the Dead Sea or even the mythical site of Petra.

Worth noting is also an excellent initiative by the Ministry that recently launched a smartphone application subsidized by the European Union’s 7th Research and Development Program.

Hence, it is a much different reality than what French viewers have been seeing on the media: a great friendship, reaching out towards cooperation and friendship between Israeli, Palestinian, and even Jordanian professionals.

At the end of our interview, Mrs. the Minister reiterated her demand that French professionals resume as soon as possible sales on the destination: the best way for visitors to not only discover an ancient destination but also to help the local economy and the hundreds of families that solely live off tourism and associated activities such as craftsmanship.

Written by David Sprecher translated by Joséphine Foucher the 01/09/2014
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Tags : Israel, Palestine

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