West Bank tourism is usually at its peak around the Christmas period with visitors from all over the world flocking, above all else, to the ancient town of Bethlehem to see the Church of the Nativity. However, the escalation in violence in Israel and Gaza has led to a sharp rise in cancellations: around 40% to 50% of reservations for November have already been cancelled, says one hotel industry source, who added that there have been no new bookings since the conflict escalated once again last week.
Bethlehem has experienced relative calm in the past two to three years, which has encouraged tourists to return. During the height of the Palestinian uprising against Israel, many visitors avoided the area.
In Jerusalem, residents and visitors are continuing to pack the streets of the city despite a militant rocket attack from Gaza in the past few days.
The crisis in Israel and Gaza has been steadily escalating since Wednesday. It’s almost certain that a continuation of the violence will only have a negative impact on an important industry for the region at a critical time of year.