The Palestinian Tourism Industry is at a turning point. On one hand there is a great potential for improvement, however, the challenge of positioning and branding the industry remains in the shadow of neighboring competition, which seems to be selling and promoting the same sites and packages.
The Palestinian tourism industry has witnessed little, if any, program development and research. Palestinian tour operators have avoided much of their expected program updates in an attempt to minimize costs due to the fluctuating turbulence that affected the industry since the mid eighties.
On the brighter side, a number of organizations have been investigating a variety of alternative and substitute tourism and cultural programs. These programs provide an added value to support the distinction and differentiation of the Palestinian tourism product. This in turn may have a strategic effect on the branding, and hence, the marketing of a tourism industry that possesses a clear and distinct Palestinian identity.
The effect of this effort goes beyond the creation and introduction of an attractive and a diverse Palestinian product which is cultural in nature and income and employment generating in design. The strategy to create a reciprocal benefit for the local communities, where the tourism programs and packages take place, help to reduce the alienation that exists with the pillar resources of these initiatives. Such resources include culture, heritage, architectural heritage, archeological sites and landscape.
This paper provided an introduction to the coalition that brings together the different organizations involved in designing, researching and implementing programs that are not typical to the national existing tourism industry. The participating organizations are divided into two main categories; the first are those involved in designing tours and paths based on their own visions and missions, and the second are those who organize cultural and heritage festivals particularly in rural Palestine.
The cumulative effort of the coalition will not only provide a different product that is both differentiated and unique, but it will fulfill an existing gap in the organization and leadership of the tourism industry that has been lacking for a long time.