RAMALLAH, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye on Sunday announced that international tourism in Palestine was back after it had stopped for one year and a half due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Ishtaye made the remarks at the inauguration of several development projects in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
"Although Israel wasn't allowing foreign tourists to stay overnight in the city of Bethlehem, the city is now ready for local and international tourism," said Ishtaye after visiting the city with other Palestinian ministers.
The Palestinian government has prepared all that Bethlehem needs "to enable tourists to stay overnight in the hotels in the city and in East Jerusalem too," he added.
The Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said in a recent statement that Bethlehem "began to receive foreign tourists to book and stay in the Palestinian hotels starting on Nov. 6."
"The ministry has supervised the training of workers in tourism on internationally approved tourism health standards and protocols," the statement said.
In a joint report issued a few weeks ago, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and the tourism ministry said "the losses of the tourism sector during the past year amounted to more than 1 billion U.S. dollars due to COVID-19.
About 70 hotels in Bethlehem have completely halted their work since March last year, after the first wave of cases were discovered in the city, which led to a high unemployment rate among its residents, and no foreign tourist groups entered Bethlehem since then.