RAMALLAH, June 14, 2013 (WAFA) – Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Rula Ma’ay’a Friday said that visiting Palestine is an act of solidarity with the Palestinians.
She spoke at length, during the opening ceremony of AMAN 22nd General Assembly conference in Ramallah,about the status of tourism in Palestine with reference to the main obstacles effecting the work of the ministry.
Ma’ay’a clearly confirmed that even though the government aims to encourage the world to visit Palestine, there are still major obstacles preventing the growth of this sector.
She said in the conference, which was organized under the auspices of the Palestine News Agency WAFA, that the occupation is the main factor to prevent the tourism sector from becoming a major income source to the Palestinians.
In an answer to fears expressed by Arab participants regarding normalization with Israel, She said that “Visiting Palestine is not a form of normalization with the jailer, but an empathy with the prisoner.”
Ma’ay’a also gave specific figures about tourism status in Palestine to give the alliance a concise idea about the situation.
The 22nd General Assembly meeting gathered about 20 members in the Alliance of the Mediterranean News Agencies ‘AMAN’.
WAFA Chairman of the board Riyad al-Hasan delivered a welcome speech in which he said that hosting this conference is a debt that WAFA wanted to pay back to all the agencies of AMAN for the support they have showed for WAFA to grow.
He explained the importance behind this conference, saying “This invitation is also an opportunity for you [AMAN] to get to know the Palestinians’ suffering under the Israeli occupation.”
Al-Hasan explained to the audience the difference between A, B and C Areas to the audience and spoke about the ongoing violations of the Oslo agreement by Israel.
A 15-minute film entitled “Palestine: Rediscover your senses” was screened following al-Hasan’s speech to give the audience a brief idea about the great potential of tourism in Palestine.
The film introduced the audience to the majestic city of Jerusalem with its famous religious sites and moved south to Bethlehem, the city of the Christ, then further to the south to Hebron, where the traditional Palestinian glass is made.
It then returned to the busiest city in the West Bank, Ramallah with its loud and crowded streets and where the symbol of Palestinian resistance is buried, leader Yassir Arafat.
It introduced the audience to the city of the Moon, Jericho and ended the film miles away on the shores of Gaza.
The audience and the speakers engaged in a lively discussion on topics of politics, economy and social life.
They inquired about the Palestinian airlines, the confiscation of historical sites by Israel, women rights, Education and movement restrictions.
Later on, the audience was invited to visit the photo exhibition organized by WAFA images, in an attempt to back all what have been discussed during the opening ceremony with a number of selected images produced by WAFA’s professional photo journalists.