Is it safe to visit the Holy Land
Personal security is paramount when travelling to a new destination for the first time and rightly so. In a world filled with heighten security risks and conflicting media reportage it can be difficult to assess how safe an area is prior to travelling there. The Holy Land is one of those places, there is often negative press associated with the area and limited depictions as to how safe for travelers the region truly is, increasingly so as the Middle East as a whole suffers civil disturbances. This has led to worldwide misconceptions as to the stability and true security of the overall area and as a result may have deterred travelers from visiting. The truth is The Holy Land and Israel are both very safe places to travel within and increasingly easy for tourists to access. Tourists can enter from three locations, Egypt, Jordan and Tel Aviv which makes the region feasible as part of travelling the Middle East as a whole. It is true that there has been conflict in the past, The Holy Land has hosted two Intifada’s and there has at certain periods been sustained violence between Israel, the West bank and the Gaza Strip. The fighting of course has left its legacy on the area and unfortunately The Holy Land was depicted as the antagonist which has resulted in many fearing the area. There have been many negative connotations made with the area including those surrounding terrorism discourse and suicide bombers. In fact, terrorism has never been a term associated with the West Bank it has been inappropriately misconstrued by the media, for example why would international donor agencies continue to fund an area they believed to be actively involved in terrorism? Worldwide media of The Holy Land has often depicted a war torn country which is constantly on the fringes of civil violence. Similarly they also portray The Holy Land as being a third world country. In reality The Holy Land is not a third world country nor is it war torn, it has huge potential for economic development and has the basic infrastructure for that development to occur. The developmental limitations that prevent The Holy Land from accessing this full potential are due to the political difficulties with having occupying power reign sovereignty over the territory. In particular the major Palestinian cities are very safe to travel within, including; Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nablus, Jenin and Hebron, and that safety is demonstrated by the increasing number of tourists entering the area in recent years. The Holy Land hosts some of the most sacred holy sites for Christians, Jews and Muslims alike, making it a meeting pot for the three religions. Pilgrimages and organized tours to these sites are common and people are increasingly accessing tours designed to show them each religious landmark. In accordance tourism figures for the past 3 years have risen dramatically, in 2010 the figure stood at 1.6 million tourists, increasing twofold by 2012 to 3.5 million people entering the West Bank for tourism. An increase this dramatic within a 2 year period could not have happened if the region was not safe to travel within. Especially for those travelers who chose to move alone. There are many areas of the world which have suffered at the hands of civil violence, The Holy Land included, but all these areas have stabilized and become subsequent tourist hot spots. It’s time to open your eyes to The Holy Land .