"We need more people to visit Palestine as you need to understand the real situation in the country, and it could help to create more opportunities for greater cooperation, cultural development, and investments," Ambassador of Palestine to Indonesia Fariz N. Mehdawi stated at the Palestinian Tourism Seminar here on Wednesday (April 13).
During the seminar, the Palestinian representatives shed light on the countrys tourist attractions, such as religious travel to the Holy Land, Jerusalem, Aqsa Mosque, culinary delicacies, beautiful handicrafts, annual festivals or events, experiential tourism, four seasons, and the landscape, as well as the way of living in Palestine.
The information was presented by representatives of the Palestinian tourism organization. The representatives were Board of Directors Secretary from Network for Palestinian Tourism Organization Elias S. Deis and also Secretary of Board from Holy Land Incoming Tour Operators Associations Margo Tarazi.
During the seminar, Ambassador Mehdawi invited all Indonesians to visit Palestine. He remarked that cooperation in several sectors, including tourism, can strengthen bilateral relations and encourage economic growth in both countries.
"We need to develop mutual understanding to promote tourism in both countries and not merely in one nation," he emphasized.
The ambassador underlined that tourism can serve as a means to drive economic growth and to create jobs to improve the welfare of the society.
"We need to restore normalcy in Palestine. To this end, we need to create jobs. For creating jobs, we have to build a civilized society and establish a system of complete governance, among others," he remarked.
He affirmed that by visiting Palestine, the Indonesian people could demonstrate their solidarity with the Palestinians who are still demanding peace and harmony in their regions.
He pointed out that Palestinians continued to struggle for their basic rights, including freedom and an independent country without any Israeli occupation of its regions.
Despite clashes in certain areas of Palestine, he pointed out that there were still several safe tourist areas in Palestine to visit, and travel agents can direct visitors to these scenic places.
"Do not forget to buy souvenirs in Palestine, including its beautiful handicrafts," he stated.
The ambassador also lauded the help offered by the Indonesian and Japanese governments to organize the Palestinian Tourism Seminar.
The various places to visit in Palestine are the Mediterranean coast, Jordan valley, Dead Sea, the desert and its wilderness, mountains, over three thousand-year-old trees, Battir Villages cultural landscape, Church of Nativity and the pilgrimage route, and the old city of Jerusalem and its walls.
Meanwhile, Nia Niscaya, director of market development for Europe, Middle East, America and Africa of the Ministry of Tourism, had invited all travel agents to offer a comprehensive tour package to Palestine. At present, a trip to Palestine is paired with a travel package of Umrah or pilgrimage.
"Please provide a sightseeing trip to Palestine as a complete package, plus Umrah or Hajj," she noted.
She stated that the seminar helped to broaden the general outlook regarding several interesting tourist attractions in Palestine, such as the landscapes, dance forms, culinary arts, annual festivals, for instance, celebrations of Eid Al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Easter, and Christmas, and the grapes festival.
"It turns out that Palestine not only has Aqsa Mosque, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem but it also has many beautiful attractions that I have never seen before. I was only aware that it offered religious tourism, but now, I know that it also has varied attractions," she noted after the seminar.
Moreover, Niscaya stated that as many as 80 thousand Indonesian people had traveled to Palestine in 2015, for instance, for religious and nature tourism.
The Palestinian Tourism Seminar was held in cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of Palestine, the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the implementation of the "Project for Sustainable Tourism Development through Public-Private Partnership."