Is a tourism boon taking hold in Palestinian hotels? According to new numbers from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, it would seem so. More people are booking, and when they do, they are staying for longer, the figures show.
Some 135,939 guests stayed in Palestinian hotels during the third quarter of 2009. This figure represents a 42% boost from the same period last year and a 37% increase on the second quarter of 2009 (though bear in mind that hotels are always quieter in the second quarter than the third, which includes the summer).
The number of guest nights was also up, at 310,643, an increase of 30% from the same period last year.
This is good news for Palestinian employment. At a time when hotels in many parts of the world are axing jobs there are 5% more people employed in Palestinian-sector tourism than during the third quarter last year.
So what’s behind the figures? The global economic crisis seems to be helping. Half of the guests are in Jerusalem, where international tourists have the choice of an Israeli or a Palestinian hotel. Palestinian hotels tend to be cheaper, which may help explain the trend.
As for guests choosing West Bank hotels (only 1% of visitors were in Gaza), there are a few factors in play. Firstly, it’s becoming easier and more common for Israeli Arabs to travel to West Bank cities. Secondly, some easing in roadblocks is reportedly making visits to the West Bank less difficult. And thirdly, the Palestinian Authority is investing in tourism.