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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Change: Gaza tunnel owners shifting to tourism

The tunnel business in Gaza has now become not only dangerous but unprofitable. So wealthy Gazans (yes, there are wealthy Gazans in the 'impoverished' Gaza Strip) are shifting their investments. They have invested $20 million recently in 'resorts.' The shopping mall, swimming pools and hotels we have seen recently are only the beginning.
Samir Saed, owner of Crazy Water Park in Gaza City, said that until now, restaurants had been the only entertainment sites for most families. He rejected allegations that the owners of the resorts were charging high fees and offering expensive food. He said his resort was charging only NIS 10 per person for a variety of attractions, including a clean beach and playgrounds.

Ahmed Sani, owner of one of the city’s fancy tourist resorts, said he established his business after renting a plot on the beach from the Hamas-run municipality.

“I’m renting for a period of five years,” he told the Hamas-affiliated Web site Al-Resalah. “It’s in the interest of the citizen to have as many resorts as possible so that there could be competition.”

Mueen Abu Khair, owner of a popular seaside fish restaurant, said the Gaza Strip had witnessed a “revolution” this summer in the field of local tourism. He estimated that local businessmen had so far invested $15m. to $20m. in an unprecedented number of tourist projects throughout the Strip.

“Many investors now prefer to put their money in businesses that are safe and more profitable than the underground tunnels,” said economist Mueen Rajab. “Most of the money is now being invested in vehicles, restaurants, supermarkets, boutiques and stores for electrical appliances.
If you build it, they will come?


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