Realm of Palestinian hospitality: traditions and projects

Due to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the image of Palestine is quite controversial, while many tourists just cross out Palestine from the list of prospective travel destinations. However, Palestine is a land with a rich history and traditional hospitality, which expands from people's attitude toward foreigners to hotel management and customers' service.

Palestine is a unique combo of languages, traditions, cultures and beliefs and it is one of the most significant religious places in the world. The overall business community of Palestine is marked by its entrepreneurial nature and every business is characterized by a distinguished level of professionalism, high quality and standard of goods and services that conform to US and European standards. This is made possible due to broad international contacts and experience of many large enterprises' owners; in addition, Palestinians has always welcomed foreign entrepreneurs to start their businesses in Palestine. Hence, they add much to the development of high standards and quality of the Palestinian businesses ranging from shops to restaurants and hotels.

Traditional Palestinian hospitality marks each business run across the area and is an integral part of hotels of Palestine, which show noticeable growth and development nowadays. Palestinian hospitality industry is something you will not see on TV - this is the most impeccable service, most personalized treat, most attentive staff.

In fact, due to Israeli occupation and bombing, Palestinian tourism has been the most affected sector of Palestinian economy that suffered great losses since 2000. Today's Palestinian hospitality industry aims at fast growth, development and innovations through international contacts and numerous domestic improvements and new projects.

This year Dubai hosted the Hotel Show at the Dubai Exhibition Center, which served as a vital stimulator for the development of the Palestinian hospitality industry and provided a great basis for strengthening the current contacts as well as for establishing new ones. The giant exhibition halls displayed a wide range of products by four hundred and twenty five companies from forty one countries for three days. For the first time, the exhibition saw an official French national pavilion comprising twenty five manufacturers of hotel equipment, bathroom accessories, textiles, wall decorations and electronic equipment. Other national pavilions represented Australia, China, Portugal, Germany, Greece, Malta, Mexico, Spain, Turkey and the UK.

Along with innovations, Palestinian hospitality industry keeps strong ties with the previous achievements, rewards and traditions. One of most recognizable organizations in Palestine is Arab Hotel Association (AHTA) established in 1962, which currently has seventy members with four thousand and seven hundred guest rooms in all major cities of Palestine. AHTA aims at development of a competitive Palestinian tourism product, opening for its members new opportunities and priorities as well as provides technical assistance toward high quality hotel management.

How can we characterize all member hotels of AHTA? One of their distinguishing features is that all of them are comparatively small accommodation facilities with impeccable service and wide choice of amenities. For instance, Al-Cazar Hotel in Jerusalem has only thirty eight guest rooms, but it offers the rooms supplied with radio, fax/modem connection, internet connection, telephone, TV, in-room-mini bar as well as indoor and outdoor pools, as well as tennis court, special facilities for kids, souvenir shop and other sales facilities, sauna, solarium, fitness center and whirlpool. Hence, the compactness of a hotel facility is on no account a drawback: it only complements to coziness of a home away from home.

Some other AHTA member hotels in Jerusalem include Sheikh Jarrah, Addar Hotel, Ambassador Hotel, American Colony Hotel, and Christmas Hotel.

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