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Israeli Tour Guides once again allowed into Bethlehem

21 June, 201021 June, 2010 1 comments Uncategorized Uncategorized
After a decade of being banned by Israeli law from Palestinian territories, 100 tour guides from Israel - 50 Jewish and 50 Druze - will return to tour guiding in Bethlehem as part of a pilot program beginning today.

The Israeli government has forbidden its own citizens from entering the Palestinian Authority since the outbreak of the intifada in 2000, but recent overtures by Israel’s Tourism Ministry which contacted the army and Civil Administration resulted in making an exception to allow Israeli tour guides into Bethlehem, a destination city for many Christian tourists.

The decision is expected to ease obstacles encountered by many tourism industry professionals including guides, travel agencies and tour operators. Some 500 Israeli tour guides requested participation in the project, but only 50 were selected by lottery, the Tourism Ministry announced today.

Previously if members of a guide’s group wanted to visit Bethlehem, they would have to go on their own or be met by a Palestinian guide on the other side of the checkpoint. Due to the inconvenience, many opted not to go, damaging Bethlehem’s tourism industry.

Civil Administration Commander Lt.-Col. Eyah Sirhan said that the safety and security of the tour guides was a top priority in approving the program and its regulations.

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said he hoped the move would improve Israel’s image as a safe destination for tourists and lauded the hearty response of Israeli tour guides to participate in the program and cooperate with the Palestinian Authority.

The end of the Palestinian uprising combined with cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian tourism ministries have resulted in a significant increase in visitors to Bethlehem, reaching as high as 1.3 million in 2009.


  • By Anonymous 2853 Days Ago
    0 points    
    Good trend for Israeli tour guides and other tourism bodies. Travel is supposed to enhance communication and understanding.

    Dependable tour guide, real reviews
    Reply to this comment

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