Palestinians are still challenged to materialize their vision of statehood as this requires a sustainable economy reliant on genuine productive capacities. Despite several interim peace agreements and ongoing peace negotiations with Israel, the economic status is not changing in occupied Palestinian territory, with Israel maintaining effective control over the borders and the skies. . This situation has been reflected through a sharp 32% rise in unemployment in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
With a shattered economy, a general feeling of despair and an overall lack of hope of for the foreseeable future, violence and radicalization of a predominantly young Palestinian population has been fuelled. Improved prospects in development and employment could halt this downward spiral of de-development as the public sector alone will not be enough to reverse the current economic situation. Bringing Palestine out of its current trend of dependence on external support to meet daily demands is becoming a must.
It has become necessary to search for a new way of thinking, as an approach must be found that has the potential to bypass imposed restrictions whilst also implementing development at the same time. Therefore the search and utilization of the Palestinian population and its relationship with, capital and natural resources becomes imperative. This approach would remain community based strategy where every community would search for its own competitive economic potential. Strategies may comprise of tourism, agriculture, education, industry or a combination of these sectors. All relevant and identifiable resources would then be networked to establish any advantages that would provide a way to instil desired development.
If a community succeeds in understanding and incorporating its competency in a development process, and manages to optimally position itself nationally and internationally, then it should expect superior results, even if the relevant industry it identifies with faces below average results.
Tourism can be developed and utilized to benefit and improve the overall economy and the welfare of Palestinians in rural areas. A number of steps need to be ensued to ensure a proper building process. Namely, all potential and relevant resources in rural areas should be identified. A second step should be to improve the capacity of the different sectors and civil organizations that are able to contribute towards this development.
As tourism is identified as a sector that possesses a certain uniqueness and differentiation, the resources introduced herein, must individually or collectively be able to provide for this uniqueness. This would have to occur within the context of a holistic vision that takes into consideration the political, social, economic and technological factors (PEST analysis) prevailing in the Palestinian rural areas. Some of the available resources for the realization of rural tourism are:
- The architectural heritage: The countryside is rich with architectural heritage, with culture, with traditions, and with beautiful nature
- Historic, Natural Paths and Tours: The Palestinian rural area has many "maqam's", caravansaries and other archaeological sites. Historic connections have been established to the Abraham, Roman, Christian, Byzantine and Islamic heritage. The area also enjoys a rich natural, demographic, cultural and a religious mix
- Human Resources and hospitable people
- Other capacities include the production of handcrafts and other traditional products.