Bethlehem Lockdown Amid Coronavirus Fears
The little town of Bethlehem is more than just a symbolic site for Christians worldwide,
it is a vibrant city whose economy heavily depends on tourism
Bethlehem is the most visited tourist destination in the West Bank.
Most local businesses including travel agencies, restaurants, hotels, souvenir stores, as well as religious, historic and archeological sites solely rely on tourism to stay afloat.
It is a place where thousands of pilgrims flock every year to visit the traditional birthplace of Jesus. In fact, according to Palestinian officials, about 10,000 people visit the Nativity Church every day, with a huge influx expected for Easter.
On Thursday, March 5th, Bethlehem’s economy took a huge hit.
On that day, the Palestinian authorities announced that the Church of the Nativity, as well as all other tourism and archeological sites in the West Bank, have been closed after at least seven Coronavirus cases were detected.
Shortly after that devastating announcement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, declared a 30-day state of emergency, shutting schools and placing restrictions on gatherings and movement between cities.
Additionally, the Palestinian and Israeli authorities announced that tourists would be banned from visiting during one of the busiest seasons, Easter season, which draws thousands of visitors and worshipers to the Holy Land.
So, what does that mean for the thousands of people who depend on tourism to stay afloat?
Tourism accounts for over 60% of Bethlehem’s economy, and while the precautionary measures are understandable and parallel to the measures taken worldwide, the impact they will have on Bethlehem’s workforce will be devastating and overwhelming. The impact will specifically be devastating for those who solely depend on tourism to place food on their tables.
Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we are battling this devastating outbreak and economic hit.
To learn more, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your solidarity and support,
From Laila Tours & Travel team.