Burgeoning Tourism Has Palestinians Scrambling to Add Hotel Rooms

Tourism is up in the Holy Land, big time. During 2010, an estimated two million people visited Bethlehem, a record year for the biblical destination. But, like Mary and Joseph so many centuries ago, most of the pilgrims could find no room at the inn.

Because of the severe lack of hotel rooms - Bethlehem, for instance, has just under 2,000 hotel rooms - very few Christian pilgrims spend the night in Palestinian towns that host some of the Bible's most important landmarks. So, while tourism numbers are up, the Palestinians aren't seeing much increased revenue as most visitors move on to locations in Israel before they have a chance to spend any money.

The Palestinian Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities is looking to remedy the problem, and provide greater convenience for visitors who may want to spend a bit more time in the town of Jesus' birth, or explore the fascinating biblical town of Jericho, which just celebrated its 10,000th anniversary as an inhabited city.

Figures released by the ministry suggested visitors, especially Eastern Orthodox and Catholic pilgrims,