Pilgrimage is a Bridge for Peace

Israel’s Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog: Free Access to Bethlehem and Holy Places Tops Israel’s Agenda; Pilgrimage is a Bridge for Peace

Free Shuttles to Transport Anticipated 18,000 Pilgrims and Tourists Between Jerusalem and Bethlehem this Christmas
Israel’s Tourism Ministry will provide free transportation for the thousands of tourists and pilgrims expected to travel to Bethlehem for traditional Christmas celebrations December 24th and 25th. Shuttles will run every half hour between Jerusalem and Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity from noon on the 24th to midday Christmas Day. Approximately 18,000 tourists are expected to travel between the two cities. All will receive holiday greetings and small gift from ministry representatives.
Free access to Bethlehem and holy places tops Israel’s agenda, says Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog. Beyond our desire to ensure smooth passage for tourists, we are also cognizant of the importance of tourism to Bethlehem and the Palestinian economy and are cooperating with the Palestinian private sector, says the minister.
Ahead of the holiday and upon the request of the Palestinian tourism industry, the Vatican’s representative to the country and church leaders, the minister has authorized Bethlehem tour guides to lead tour groups to destinations in Israel. Hundreds of Gaza Christians will also be able to make the trip to visit family in the West Bank.
So far this year, an approximate 450,000 crossings of Christian pilgrims were registered between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Following a tour Wednesday to the crossing, the Tourism Minister budgeted an initial NIS 500,000 to upgrade the crossing between Jerusalem and Bethlehem to improve tourist access. The ministry is also promoting cooperation with private Israeli and Palestinian partners to develop the crossing point between the two cities.