Tourists trickle back to Bethlehem's holy sites

Tourists are slowly trickling back to Bethlehem after a year of restrictions; a glimmer of hope for a city heavily reliant on the revenue they bring.

A recovery strategy developed by the Palestinian tourism ministry included vaccination and training workers on how to deal with returning tourists.

Over June and July, twenty groups a month have been allowed to visit the holy sites.

Ibrahim Tannas sells souvenirs, and says the sight of those groups gave him hope.

"Things are normal here, everything is fine, most people are vaccinated, and people from abroad are vaccinated. We call on them to come, and to confirm their bookings. We welcome them because everything is fine."

For Fouteh Mikael, a tour guide, things have got off to a slow start.

"To be honest, for almost 18 months we had no one, just two weeks ago I had my first group and today I have my second group from here from the States."

Bethlehem enjoyed a record-breaking tourist season back in 2019.

The sector's losses from a year of lockdown are estimated at just over a billion dollars, down 68% from that peak.

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