A new hotel in Bethlehem shows how tourism can be political

Published on : Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Bethlehem shows how tourismIn modern world, tourism is an important industry providing jobs and economic growth. At the same time, tourism and tourists are sometimes looked down on, seen as awkward and ignorant. However, tourism has been promoted as an “industry” of considerable economic importance to national governments. This has overshadowed the capacities of tourism to foster political engagement, political advocacy, and activism.

The “Walled Off Hotel” in Bethlehem, was opened March 2017 by celebrated graffiti artist Banksy. The hotel is situated across the street from the Separation Wall. Israel has constructed this wall to separate itself from its occupied Palestinian territories. Marketed as “the hotel with the worst view in the world”, Banksy’s hotel is reviving the profile of tourism as a political tool.

Banksy has funded this nine-room hotel to operate for at least 2017, and possibly longer. The Walled Off is run by hotel staff who will work at the hotel while it is kept open; they are not performers. Occupying a room at the Walled Off, a tourist can contemplate in a real way who is mobile and who is not, and how our choices are implicated in such circumstances.

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