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Tourism sector suffers decline in face of Gaza assault
Published Sunday 17/08/2014 (updated) 19/08/2014 10:26
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A Palestinian holds his national flag in front of the Nativity Church in
Bethlehem, Palestine's first listed World Heritage Site (Ammar Awad)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The tourism industry in Palestine has suffered a serious decline as a result of the Israeli offensive on Gaza, the head of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said Saturday.

Tourism has declined by approximately 60 percent since the beginning of the assault, which in addition to causing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza has led to increased tensions in the West Bank, Minister of Tourism Rula Maayah told Ma'an.

Before the war, the tourism sector was experiencing a boom, but thousands of tourists have since canceled their reservations, Maayah said.

In August 2013, 83,000 tourists visited Palestine, but as war raged in Gaza at the beginning of August 2014, only 17,000 tourists visited.

Hotel owners say all rooms would have been booked in September if reservations hadn't been cancelled as a result of the Gaza war, the minister told Ma'an.

Maayah said she hoped tourism would improve ahead of the Christmas season, a time which typically sees the Palestinian city of Bethlehem swarming with tourists.

Separately, the war on Gaza has done physical damage to some of Palestine's historical and religious sites, she told Ma'an.

The Strip's ancient seaport, which is the site of a port believed to have been used in the spice trade in the first century B.C.E and later by the Romans, was damaged during the war.

The port, which has not been in operation since the imposition of the Israeli blockade on Gaza in 2006, was about to be named on the UNESCO world heritage list, Maayah told Ma'an.

Additionally, old mosques in Gaza such as the Hashim al-Mamlouki mosque and the al-Omari mosque were damaged, as well as the Prophet Yousef's sanctuary, she said.

Israeli forces bombed the historic al-Omari Mosque in the northern Gaza City of Jabaliya on Aug. 2
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1 ) Mel / USA
17/08/2014 16:33
Well, let's just evaluate?It's a SELECTIVE tourism,CONTROLLED by Israel's occupation&profiling,totally,usually favoring Christian-Zionist Sheeple(DONORS)who flock to Israel to check the Judeo-Zionist "Janitor" is getting ready for "Army-Guido"(where all who don't convert get"fried" anyway).There're Coptic Christians &Orthodoxy,who're STILL only there by PERMIT from "Jews-only"Zionist occupation.So,I'd hardly call that OPEN TOURISM to all &sundry! END THE OCCUPATION FOR REAL PLURALISTIC TOURISM!

2 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
17/08/2014 19:10
Hamas is Muslim Brotherhood, and they do not want tourism. They do not want foreigners. They do not believe that Palestinians should earn livings from tourism. That's one of the reasons they hide weapons and fire rockets from anywhere, including tourist sites in Gaza. The only way for peace and prosperity in Palestine is to get rid of Hamas, just like the region must get rid of IS and ISIS and Al Qaeda and all the other Islamofascists who prefer death over life. Until then, well, it's death.

3 ) Bemused / New Zealand
17/08/2014 19:58
Such respect for history from a bunch of people claiming a historical right!

4 ) Outlier / USA
17/08/2014 21:30
Yet another consequence of a conflict that did not need to happen. Also, lots of blanket statements about damage to tourism sites in this article without details, thus casting doubt on their accuracy.

5 ) joey / phil
18/08/2014 04:24
indict israel for its crime against humanity

6 ) Luke / USA
18/08/2014 15:06
The tourists can still visit the monument dedicated to the M-75 rocket.

7 ) JOST SOPHIA / SUISSE
19/08/2014 11:30
israelis you are Not Welcome in PALESTINE.

8 ) Andrew / UK
20/08/2014 13:15
Brian Cohen: "...tourist sites in Gaza." What planet are you on?
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