The European Union and Germany launched today the East Jerusalem Tourism Development Program and inaugurated the Tourism Development Hub in East Jerusalem, according to an EU press release.
The German Development Cooperation is implementing this new program in partnership with the different components of the Palestinian tourism sector in East Jerusalem.
The East Jerusalem Tourism Development Program is the first joint project between the EU and Germany in the framework of the East Jerusalem program. It aims at maintaining the Palestinian identity of the city and supporting the tourism sector in East Jerusalem, against the backdrop of a worrying trend of increasing hardship for Palestinian life and economic activity in this part of the city.
‘’Palestinians in East Jerusalem are facing daily political, economic, and social challenges. Tourism has always been one of the main income-generating activities in the city and helped maintaining the Palestinian presence and identity of the city. Yet, in the last two years, this sector was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. This new program is full of innovative and creative concepts to revive the sector,’’ said the European Union Representative, Sven Kühn Von Burgsdorff.
‘’Our joint work as Europeans reflects once again the clear and united position of the EU and its Member States with regard to East Jerusalem. For us, East Jerusalem is part of the occupied Palestinian territory and the status of Jerusalem as the future capital for the two states should always be respected and protected,’’ he added.
“As Germans and Europeans we value tourism that is of quality and locally owned. We therefore are confident this project will connect the tourism community and support new concepts and services. As it will contribute to more and better job and career opportunities! “, the German Representative, Oliver Owcza, added.
The program comes at a crucial point in time where the Palestinians working in tourism sector have been suffering from the severe fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thousands of Palestinians working in the sector have lost their jobs as many businesses were forced to shut down. In response to the pandemic, the tourism recovery component of the program will support a faster and more resilient economic uptake and market re-entry.
Other components of the program will provide specific technical, strategic, and financial support to tourism entrepreneurs in developing new products and services.
The program supports a revitalized and vibrant tourism sector that provides great opportunities for Palestine’s private sector, foster economic development and protect the Palestinian culture and heritage in East Jerusalem. It offers demand-driven support to Palestinian entrepreneurs, tourism sector stakeholders, and civil society organizations. Addressing a cross-cutting demand, the program will also help establishing a digital infrastructure with a view to connecting the East Jerusalem tourism sector with international markets, said the release.
The Tourism Development Hub that is inaugurated today and located at the heart of East Jerusalem. It will provide a co-working space and networking environment open to the Palestinian tourism community.
This hub represents a creative virtual environment for exchange, business development, and empowerment of Palestinian tourism professionals, emerging start-ups, creative minds, and young entrepreneurs, it said.
A network of renowned local and international tourism business and marketing experts will provide hands-on support in bringing innovative ideas to life and driving businesses to be more successful and competitive.