Bethlehem: Tourism employees raise sounds of protest to seek support

PNN/ Bethlehem/

Dozens of oriental antique shop owners, hoteliers, tourist guides, and employees of the tourism sector organized a protest in Bethlehem today, in front of one of the biggest souvenir oriental antique shops in the city, The Three Arches, which was turned into a “vegetable shop”, as a sign of protest and seeking support amidst the economic collapse due to the pandemic.

Adel Khamis, one of the employees at the shop, said that he was a seller of oriental diamonds and antiques, and today he turned into a seller of vegetables and fruits for a livelihood and for the owner to be able to pay the workers’ salaries, stressing that he and many workers in the tourism sector did not receive any support or assistance from the government or the “Waqfet Ezz” government fund, calling on the concerned authorities to work get their support before it’s too late.

Canawati told PNN that he decided to take this step after the government failed to abide by its promises to this sector, as it did not provide any assistance to it, and it also promised to agree with the Monetary Authority and banks to grant them interest-free loans, but this matter did not materialize. Instead, banks place untenable conditions on anyone who approaches them to request loans.

He pointed out that his shop includes hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of goods, but it is nothing these days due to the interruption of tourism, and therefore he hopes that the cry of the shop owners of oriental antiques, tourist offices, guides, and owners of the tourism transport sector will reach the government and the Ministry of Tourism for real and serious work to support them.

Tourist guide Saleh Abu Laban said that he works as a tour guide and that he stopped working seven months ago and no one extended a helping hand to him, wondering how he could survive, noting that the components of the tourism sector are many and varied, as different sectors have been affected and need support in order to re-operate them.

He pointed out that tour guides work in exchange for a daily wage, meaning that his wage would be finished by the day, while now, his work has stopped seven months ago. Therefore, he called on the government to take practical measures such as distributing guides to various institutions and ministries as well as reducing and canceling taxes because, without action and practical steps, he will not be able to financially survive.