"Investors prefer investing in businesses that are safe
and more profitable than the underground tunnels."
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
After the shopping mall and several fancy restaurants, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have recently invested around $20 million in new seaside and tourist resorts.According to sources in there, thousands of Palestinian families have started visiting the resorts, which offer a wide range of attractions.The boom in the local tourism industry is largely attributed to the fact that the underground smuggling business along the border has become less profitable since Israel’s recent decision to allow various goods into the Gaza Strip reduced prices of many items significantly.Moreover, the Israeli and Egyptian crackdown on the underground tunnels has made it too risky and expensive to continue operating them. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed while working in the tunnels over the past few years.As a result, many investors who used to put a lot of money into the smuggling business have shifted their attention to other projects, including the seaside resorts.Samir Saed, owner of Crazy Water Park in Gaza City, said that until now, restaurants had been the only entertainment sites for most families. He rejected allegations that the owners of the resorts were charging high fees and offering expensive food. He said his resort was charging only NIS 10 per person for a variety of attractions, including a clean beach and playgrounds.Ahmed Sani, owner of one of the city’s fancy tourist resorts, said he established his business after renting a plot on the beach from the Hamas-run municipality.Advertisement“I’m renting for a period of five years,” he told the Hamas-affiliated Web site Al-Resalah. “It’s in the interest of the citizen to have as many resorts as possible so that there could be competition.”Mueen Abu Khair, owner of a popular seaside fish restaurant, said the Gaza Strip had witnessed a “revolution” this summer in the field of local tourism. He estimated that local businessmen had so far invested $15m. to $20m. in an unprecedented number of tourist projects throughout the Strip.“Many investors now prefer to put their money in businesses that are safe and more profitable than the underground tunnels,” said economist Mueen Rajab. “Most of the money is now being invested in vehicles, restaurants, supermarkets, boutiques and stores for electrical appl
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