Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov on Monday expressed regret at the Palestinian
Authority’s recent call for the international community to boycott an upcoming
tourism convention in Jerusalem, and expressed his hope the call would be
“Tourism is a bridge to peace, dialogue and togetherness
between the two peoples, and one of the principle confidence-building measures
between the two,” the minister said.
Meseznikov mentioned how 2010 was
the best year ever for tourism in the PA, and set records for shared tourism
initiatives between Israelis and Palestinians.
The minister said he hopes
“rational considerations will outweigh this decision and prevent boycotts of
PA Tourism Minister Hulud Deibas sent a letter on Friday to
all countries invited to take part in the 2011 International Tourism Conference
in Jerusalem, which will be held at the capital’s International Convention
Center (Binyenei Ha’uma) on March 29- 31.
In her letter, Deibas said,
“The dispatch of official representatives constitutes recognition of occupied
Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
Tourism ministers from 30 countries have
been invited to take part in the conference, which was organized by the Tourism
Ministry and the Jerusalem Municipality.
Joseph Fischer, owner’s
representative and executive board member for IDB Tourism Ltd, on Monday said
efforts to boycott Israeli tourism will hurt Palestinians more than Israelis. He
said, “2010 was a record-breaking year for tourism to Israel and also for the
Palestinian Authority,” and described how West Bank cities such as Bethlehem,
Ramallah and Jericho have benefited from the overflow from hotels in Jerusalem
experiencing “unprecedented booking levels.”
Fischer said such a boycott
would affect the hotel workers, restaurant employees and other workers in the
tourism industry, the majority of whom are Palestinians.
joining hands to work together to advance tourism – a tool to bring
reconciliation between the two peoples – this PA minister has chosen politics
over what is actually good for her people,” Fischer said.