Hotels and shops are filled in Bethlehem, as the city enjoys another busy, exciting Christmas season. Expecting more than 1.5 million tourists in 2011, Bethlehem is experiencing a recent trend of attracting people from all over the world seeking an authentic Christmas experience in the city widely believed to be the birthplace of Jesus.
In 2010 alone, more than 1.1 million tourists visited the city; a 60 percent increase from the previous year. Bethlehem–a Palestinian city–has 22,000 residents. During Christmas, however, the population swells by more than 400 percent, amounting to an injection of economic activity; pilgrims and tourists keep shopkeepers, hotel owners and tour guides busy. Every year during Christmas, almost $250 million in revenue is poured into Bethlehem, constituting a staggering 15 percent of its GDP.
The Civil Administration recognizes the religious and economic importance of Bethlehem. It will continue to work towards increasing the influx of tourists and pilgrims looking to celebrate the holiday season in Bethlehem–one of the holiest biblical sites for Christians.