EMBASSY OF THE STATE OF PALESTINE
Chancery: Aleksandra Stambolijskog 27a, Belgrade
Tel: +381 (11) 3671-407
Fax: +381 (11) 3671-336
Tourism in the Palestinian territories refers to tourism in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In 2010, 4.6 million people visited the Palestinian territories, compared to 2.6 million in 2009. Of that number, 2.2 million were foreign tourists while 2.7 million were domestic. This number of international visits is misleading, however, since most tourists come for only a few hours or as part of a day trip itinerary. In the last quarter of 2012 over 150,000 guests stayed in West Bank hotels; 40% were European and 9% were from the United States and Canada. Major travel guides write that “the West Bank is not the easiest place in which to travel but the effort is richly rewarded.”
The Palestinian Authority and Israeli tourism ministries have attempted to work together on tourism in the Palestinian territories in a Joint Committee. Recent cooperation to share access to foreign tourists has not proven successful in Palestine for many reasons. Israel controls the movement of tourists into the West Bank. Palestinian tour guides or transportation companies have not been able to enter Israel since 2000, and in 2009, Israel’s Ministry of Tourism completely wiped the West Bank and any Palestinian area from its materials. Former Palestinian Authority Tourism Minister Kholoud Diibes has commented “that Israel collects 90% of [religious] pilgrim-related revenue”. Foreign tourism has been restricted to East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the August 2013 indefinite closing of the Rafah crossing located between Egypt and the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip. There is essentially no tourist flow to Gaza since 2005 because of the ongoing Israeli military land, air, and sea blockade.
In 2013 Palestinian Authority Tourism minister Rula Ma’ay’a stated that her government aims to encourage international visits to Palestine, but the occupation is the main factor preventing the tourism sector from becoming a major income source to Palestinians. There are no visa conditions imposed on foreign nationals other than those imposed by the visa policy of Israel. Access to Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza is completely controlled by the Government of Israel. Entry to the occupied Palestinian territories requires only a valid international passport.