The Palestinian Authority is launching a new branding campaign for the city of Jericho, one of the oldest cities in the world. Celebrations planned for October 10 will be held in honor of the establishment of the city 10,000 years ago.
The city is also expecting to see $2 billion invested in a residential complex and hotels, and the option of an airport is also being discussed.
The idea of celebrating the 10,000-year anniversary of the city arose after the millennium celebrations in 2000, which focused primarily on tourist sites connected to Jesus, like the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Cultural events and activities relating to the anniversary celebrations will continue into 2011.
According to the internet website Travel Palestine, celebrations of the historic date will include a week of street festivals and workshops for travel industry professionals, and the development of new tourist attractions and additional tourism infrastructure.
"This area has a huge amount of potential that is just waiting to be discovered," said Tourism Minister Dr. Khouloud Daibes-Abu Dayyeh, as part of a tour for the foreign press corps.
The Palestinian Ministry of Tourism is working with the private sector, donors, and local authorities in order to develop needed tourist infrastructure in Jericho and the Jordan Valley, such as the restoration of historic sites and the development of theme-specific trails.
Attempts to turn Jericho into a tourist destination began during the lead-up to the millennium. A cable car to Temptation Mountain that rises 300 meters above the Jordan Valley was built in 1999 at a cost of $12 million. The Al-Aqsa intifada in 2001 seriously harmed tourism in the area, and it took a number of years to recover.
The cable car operators state that 800,000 people visit the site in 2009, and 2010 saw a 42% rise in the number of visitors in comparison to the same period from the previous year.
The residents of Jericho are expecting an additional increase in tourism because of the city's 10,000th birthday celebrations. The Temptation Mountain cable car owners are planning to build a 70-room hotel and 30 boutique shops on the mountain next to the visitor center.