One of my clients booked a Bethlehem tour today and requested overnight accommodations since they were traveling from Tel Aviv for the on-day tour. Staying with a Palestinian family is an excellent way to learn about local culture and mores. I managed to place my guest with a family that lives very close to Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity. The neighborhood is a great place to wander through, especially when all the day-trippers have gone back to Jerusalem.
One of the unfortunate aspects of the encapsulation of Bethlehem by the Security Wall is the reluctance of visitors to spend the night in the town. Israeli tour operators encourage this trend and as a result the Bethlehem residents lose out and unemployment remains high despite a record year for tourism. In addition to family hosts, there is a wide variety of accommodations to meet everyone's budget. Even luxurious five-star accommodations are almost half the price of nearby Jerusalem.
There's truly no better way to learn about life under Occupation that to hear it first hand through informal discussions with a host family. Experiencing Palestinian hospitality is always a treat. Family acommodations always include breakfast and sometimes dinner as well. Costs are generally quite low, $30-$45 per night.
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