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Tourism sector in Palestine continues to decline due to COVID-19, with Bethlehem hardest hit – report

Tourism sector in Palestine continues to decline due to 
COVID-19, with Bethlehem hardest hit – report
The Nativity Church in Bethlehem empty of people due to COVID-19 lockdown.

RAMALLAH, Monday, September 27, 2021 (WAFA) - The performance of the tourism sector in Palestine continues to decline due to COVID-19 pandemic, especially in Bethlehem Governorate, which annually receives more than 60% of the total number of hotel guests and visitors coming to the West Bank, today said the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (MOTA).

They said in their joint report marking World Tourism Day that the estimated losses of the inbound tourism sector during 2020 reached over $1 billion after the decrease in the expenditure of inbound tourism to Palestine by 68% compared to 2019.

The number of hotel guests during the first half of 2021 in the West Bank reached 58,765, of whom more than 77% were Palestinians from inside Israel, 22.5% were local residents/visitors, and only 0.3% were visitors from outside Palestine.

There were not any hotel guest accommodations recorded in Bethlehem during this period, making it the most affected nationwide, said the report.

On the other hand, Jericho witnessed a record increase in the reception of hotel guests, to record 72% of the total guests in the West Bank during 2021, where its share during previous years did not exceed 7% of the total hotel guests to the West Bank.

The number of inbound visits (same day visitors) to tourist sites in the West Bank reached 314,800 during the first half of 2021, (99.3% of whom were Palestinians from Inside Israel). In comparison with previous years, the number declined even further reaching 52% compared to the same period in 2020, and decreased to about 82% compared to the same period in 2019.

The number of inbound visits during the first half of the current year was distributed by governorate as follows: 46% in Jericho, 24% in Nablus, 14% in Jenin, and 16% of visits were to the rest of the West Bank governorates.

During the first half of 2021, the tourist sites in the West Bank witnessed a slight improvement in the movement of local visitors, which reached 880,000 visits to the various tourist sites, gardens and parks. Compared to the same period in 2020, the number of domestic visits increased by 48%, while when compared to the same period in 2019, the percentage decreased by 52%.

Local visits were concentrated in Nablus Governorate with 29%, followed by Ramallah and Al-Bireh Governorate with a percentage of 20%, and Jenin and Qalqilya Governorates with a percentage of 16% and 14%, respectively.

The number of employees working in activities related to the tourism sector reached 42,400 employees during the second quarter of the year 2021, a 4% of the total workers in Palestine. Accordingly, the number of employees working in tourism activities increased by 18% compared to the same period of 2020. In 2019, the number of employees working in the tourism sector was still low, at 2%.

M.K.

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