(Palestine Twitter)-Tourism in the Palestinian territories refers to tourism in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The tourism industry declined 90% following the Second Intifada in 2000, though it had recovered, with 2.6 million tourists in 2009, 1.7 million from abroad. Palestinian Authority's Tourism minister is Khouloud Daibes. Presently, foreign tourism is restricted to the West Bank, due to the Israeli blockade of the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian Authority and Israeli tourism ministries work together on tourism in the Palestinian territories in a Joint Committee. Israel administrates the movement of tourists into the West Bank
The tourist industry in the West Bank collapsed after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, but had recovered by the 1990s. Tourism focuses on historical and biblical sites in East Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and the economy of the latter is particularly dependent on tourism. Over 80% of tourists visiting the Palestinian territories go to Bethlehem, mostly for brief visits; occupancy rates in hotels in Bethlehem were only 2.5% in 2005 because most visitors stay in Jerusalem. 60,000 Christian pilgrims visited the Church of the Nativity during Christmas 2007, and around 1.3 million tourists visited Bethlehem in 2008. In 2007 there were over 300,000 guests at Palestinian hotels, half in East Jerusalem.
The climate of the Gaza Strip (an average temperature of 26°C in August) and its 75 km of coastline make it ideal in principle for foreign tourism, which could provide a basis for the economy of Gaza. Tourism between Egypt and Gaza was active before 1967, and Gaza was a resort with hotel casinos, but few tourists visited after the war. A recession in Israel in the mid-80s again reduced tourism in Gaza to almost none.
Before the second intifada, Gaza could be reached by tourists by taking a private taxi via the Erez crossing point, or via a flight to Gaza International Airport. Gaza City had few attractions aside from the Palestine Square bazaar and the beach area, which had hotels, restaurants, and a fishing market. Israeli Arabs visited beaches in Gaza, and there were popular nightclubs.
In 2001, the Palestinian Ministry of Environmental Affairs said that the beaches in Gaza were too polluted with sewage for safe beach tourism and that beach-side construction has been haphazard and unplanned. The Palestinian National Authority identified the Jabalya/Beit Lahya, Gaza City, Nezarim/Wadi Gazi, and Rafah/Khan Yunis beach areas as having potential for the development of beach tourism in 2001. Following the Israeli disengagement from Gaza in August 2005 there were expectations that tourism in Gaza could be developed,
Zimmers and biblical attractions
Israeli settlers in the West Bank run vacation cabins called "zimmers" with special amenities for Orthodox Jews. A biblical tourist attraction in Alon, Genesis Land, is visited by Jews, Christians and Muslims, who take part in building Bible-era tents, herding sheep and goats, and drawing water from a well. One of the zimmers is called Abraham's Tent.
Bethlehem - Burial place of the matriarch Rachel and birthplace of King David and of Jesus. Around 1.3 million tourists visited the city in 2008.
Church of the Nativity - A church built over the cave that tradition marks as the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth. It is a popular attraction sacred to both Christians and Muslims.
Shepherd's Field - Just outside of Beit Sahour, the field is said to be were Jesus's birth was announced to a group of shepherds.
Manger Square - A city square in the center of Bethlehem that takes its name from the manger where Jesus was born.
Solomon's Pools - A prominent site in the al-Khader area, named after King Solomon.
Salesian Cremisan Monastery — A winery as well as a convent in the suburb of Beit Jala.
Jericho- The Biblical city is believed to be one of the oldest in the world. With its proximity to the Dead Sea, Jericho is the most popular destination among Palestinian tourists. Tourism increased by nearly 42.3% in the first three quarters of 2008 as crossing between areas under PA control and Israel became less restricted.
Hebron -A holy city in Judaism and Islamic tradition, and the place where the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs is located. According to the tradition, this is the burial place of the great patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) and matriarchs (Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah). It was also the capital of the Kingdom of Israel before King David moved it to Jerusalem.