U.S. Spends $50,000 To Encourage Palestinian Tourism

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By Adam Andrzejewski for RealClearPolicy

The Department of State’s U.S. Mission to Jerusalem will provide up to $50,000 to promote American tourism in Palestine, according to a recent grant notice.

The objectives of the grant include:

  • “An enhanced and more diversified Palestinian tourism sector
  • Improved capacities of tourism-related Palestinian businesses and entrepreneurs
  • Support for at least one of the following types of tourism: eco; cultural life, food, heritage and tradition; adventure, sports, and recreation
  • Availability of additional English-language resources for the Palestinian tourism sector
  • Improved knowledge and understanding among Palestinian people of American tourists’ interests and demand”

The grant notice encourages proposals to include, “A series of events, academic and professional lectures, seminars, speaker sessions, roundtables, networking, and trainings, programs that increase participants’ knowledge of the behavior and contemporary demands of modern American and international tourists, and that support youth and women’s entrepreneurial initiatives in tourism sector-related businesses.”

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The U.S. State Department website warns tourists traveling to the West Bank in Palestine to “exercise increased caution when traveling to the West Bank due to terrorism and civil unrest.” They warn tourists not to travel to Gaza, “due to terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict.”

The money is designated to go to a non-profit in Palestine, but a culture of corruption means that most of the money will most likely not benefit its intended recipients. Transparency International reports that 62 percent of people surveyed believe corruption has increased in Palestine in the last year, and 17 percent of public services users have paid bribes in the last year.

There are plenty of ways the U.S. could help Palestine, but trying to fund the almost nonexistent tourism industry is not an effective method. Funding better infrastructure, public safety programs, and education about safety in Palestine would all be more effective than a grant like this.  

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