The City Economy
Tourism and its related enterprises form a major industry in the region. They play a crucial role in developing the local economy. More than 20% of the working population is employed in the tourism sector. Pilgrims come to Bethlehem all year round with the low season during the winter months from November to February. However, Christmas is the high point. More than two million tourists and pilgrims visit the birthplace of Jesus every year. In fact, a trip to the Holy Land without a visit to Bethlehem is just unthinkable. Today, it is one of the world's most celebrated religious places. Indeed long before the age of modern tourism, the town was one of the star attractions of the Middle East. It has been welcoming visitors from around the word ever since.
The people of Bethlehem have developed high quality artisan craftsmanship mainly Mother-of-Pearl, Olive Wood, religious and secular items. The town owes much of its prosperity to the manufacture of religious objects made from Olive Wood, Mother-of-Pearl and coral. Over one thousand different gift items are made and sold mainly to pilgrims and tourists. Hand embroidery is another special trade mark in Bethlehem. Other industries include textiles, chemicals and stone manufacturing. Bethlehem has a long tradition of skilled stonemasons, working the high quality stone that comes from quarries in the vicinity of the town.