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"Fam trip" gives tour operators taste of Palestine

Political tensions have made tourism in the West Bank relatively scarce, despite its abundance of archaeological and historical landmarks. To spread the word about the West Bank’s tourism potential, USAID's Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion (EDIP) project (managed by CARANA) and the Arab Hotel Association led a weeklong familiarization (or "fam") tour in December for 21 representatives of Spanish and German tour operators and travel agents, including large companies and niche firms specializing in custom, unconventional travel. Led by an EDIP tourism consultant, the group visited sites in Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jericho and Jerusalem, following a typical pilgrim itinerary.

At a debriefing session, participants gave feedback to local industry representatives, praising Palestinian hospitality, culture and food and suggesting improvements to service levels and infrastructure, as well as better marketing to “show the world what the real Palestine is about.”

EDIP also worked simultaneously and behind the scenes with TravelTalkMedia, which produced four segments about people and places in Palestine in mid-December. They are also developing a photo and video gallery, completing a short video on Palestine tourism destinations, and preparing a feature article for the February edition of “Leisure Group Travel,” a leading magazine used by group travel planners.

Published January 2010