Tourism is a vital sector for the Palestinian economy. It has always been. Most of Palestine's tourism is based on pilgrimage as believers from all over the world visit the various Christian, Muslim and Jewish holy sites and shrines.
Although pilgrimage is currently the primary reason for visiting Palestine, there is abundant potential for the growth of other products, hence diversifying the available resources to attract a larger segment of the interested markets.
The development of such products is important as the Palestinians need to continue to distinguish their products and what they have to offer from the existing regional competition. The Israelis, for instance, seem to be selling the same product as the Palestinians. However, they continued to develop their industry to attract various segments and niche markets. The Palestinians, for a long time were satisfied with being closer to the holy and historic sites. Indeed, this is changing and the competition is becoming stronger and more serious. This is why alternatives need to be investigated and developed in order to differentiate the Palestinian tourism and involve additional sectors of the community in its benefits.
One such product is the development of tourism in areas where the preservation of the architectural heritage and the development of local culture and traditions can be combined to create attractive tourism benefiting the local communities and establishing a solid source of income and employment for them. Palestine is not alone in this. Several Mediterranean countries such as Italy and Spain have developed products based on similar concepts, often referred to as agro-cultural tourism.
This includes the preservation and protection of old buildings and towns from further deterioration and damage to its architectural heritage and culture. It also includes the adoption of a master plan that instills life in these properties and areas. This is important because it is necessary to posses a comprehensive vision and a business model for the final outcome. The involvement of the stakeholders and their invested interest in this project are important as transparency and awareness go side by side during the development of such a project.