Worthy Christian News » Israel-Palestinian Conflict » Palestinian Violence Still Hampering Tourism to Israel
This past weekend, the last open hotel in the town of Nazareth, an important place of Christian pilgrimage, closed its door, a sign of the sagging fortunes of the tourism business in Israel since the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada.
Tourism has dropped off by as much as 75% in recent months, but there are groups still coming and seeing most of the biblical sites. The mistaken impression of widespread violence created by daily media reports has deterred many visitors, although it has been, by and large, safe to enter the country and tour the majority of the holy sites.
When the Marriott hotel in Nazareth closed its doors last weekend, it left the city without a single hotel open for business. The Renaissance, the other large hotel in Nazareth, was closed in October last year following the riots in the Arab sector and the subsequent fall-off in tourism. Most Christian tour groups traditionally have spent their nights in hotels in Jerusalem and Tiberias, and Nazareth only became a more popular spot for over-night stays in recent years.
The director-general of the Hotels Association in Jerusalem, Yonatan Harpaz, said this week that only one hotel had been closed in West Jerusalem (in part for renovations), but that 29 out of the 31 hotels in East Jerusalem had been shut down. The occupancy rate of hotels in Jerusalem is expected to reach 30 percent in January, as opposed to 22 percent in December 2000, thanks to visits by various solidarity delegations from the Jewish Diaspora.
Besides the steady diet of negative press coverage, many in the tourism business, Arab and Jew alike, blame much of the fall-off on the US State Department's official travel warning to American citizens not to visit Israel. Other nations often follow the US lead and discourage travel to the region. Jordan and Egypt also have suffered a huge blow to their tourism industry due to the Palestinian violence.
Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.