What can be done to revive the center of Jerusalem? Tourism establishments in the city are closing their doors one after the other, and the same goes for several other cultural and community centers. Almost everyone linked to the tourism sector seems to be facing a number of setbacks imposed by the deprivation of the city from its hinterland by the Israeli siege, and by the seasonal nature and high political sensitivity of the traditional Christian pilgrimage.
The decline has been ongoing since the year 2010 when Jerusalem essentially ceased to be the center of Palestinian life and eyes were diverted elsewhere. This decline was exacerbated after the war on Gaza in 2014. Except for very few tourism seasons such as Easter, in addition to some Islamic tourism, the general trend is still negative and the threat that additional establishments will close down is still pretty high.
The Jerusalem community needs to act in order to reverse what seems to be an endless deterioration. The city needs to find its rightful position on Palestine’s tourism map both locally and internationally. In order to achieve such a change, the city needs to reinvent and rearrange its tourism product with specific focus on exposing and employing the existing cultural diversity. It needs to introduce and offer attractive and interactive initiatives that are able to entice visitors to explore the city’s secrets and gems, to delve beyond its traditional and well-known sites, and to generate income and employment for its businesses and its impoverished community.
A number of concerned organizations along Nablus Road, led by the Arab Hotel Association and supported by UNDP’s Community Resilience and Development Programme and the European Union, and in cooperation with various active tourism and cultural institutions, came together to organize an initiative that responds to the city’s business needs and to the welfare, well-being, and resilience of its residents.
The second annual Nablus Road Open Days event, due to take place on May 4, 5, and 6, is an attempt to explore and discover the hidden secrets of the various institutions along the road from Damascus Gate to the Heritage Museum at Dar Al-Tifel Al-Arabi. Each organization has a story to tell, a space or a garden to visit, and a history to explore. All organizations along the street are making their venues and resources available to host a number of cultural, touristic, and heritage events.
The Nablus Road event has fostered neighborly relations among participating organizations and has promoted the diversity that exists along the street. Visitors are invited to visit all of the venues during these three days and to walk through the streets and markets in and around the heart of the city and among its indigenous population. Hosted events are attractive and convenient for families and for all who desire to visit the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem that longs for your warmth.