Palestine should not have problems attracting tourists, with its rich blend of history, religious significance, local culture, as well as the varied and breathtaking scenery. But of course, the political context of the Israeli occupation means that the vast majority of tourists in the “Holy Land” only see Palestinians through the window of a tour bus, as they dash in and out of Bethlehem for a couple of hours.
The occupation, however, has also attracted a different kind of visitor, the “alternative tourist,” who comes to the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), occupied by Israel along with the Gaza Strip since 1967, in order to better understand the conflict, and deliberately go “beyond” the standard pilgrimage or mainstream tourist trip to Israel. These kinds of tourists are much fewer in number, and are typically already sensitized to some degree to the Palestinian situation. Virtually no tourists, if any, go to the Gaza Strip, which has been under Israeli-imposed closure for several years. Read more