Bethlehem University prides itself on maintaining strong institutional values that influence all aspects of the Palestinian community, an influence that reaches far beyond the university walls. In addition to BU’s place as a pillar of intellectual, educational, and cultural development, the university is committed to endeavors that foster excellence, trust, and dignity for every member of Palestinian society. With this in mind, Bethlehem University is proud to announce its participation in a new initiative that will positively impact the community at the university level, the local level, and the national level.
Bethlehem Destination Christmas (BDC)
Bethlehem Destination Christmas is a non-profit, public-private partnership aimed at promoting the celebration of Bethlehem's Christmas traditions and increasing international tourism to Palestine both during and after the Christmas season. BDC is comprised of Bethlehem University, the Bethlehem Development Foundation, the Diyar Consortium, Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, and Holy Land Incoming Tour Operators Association. In coordination with the PA Ministry of Tourism and the municipalities of Bethlehem, Beit Jala, and Beit Sahour, these 5 stakeholders have been working to organize and establish an array of activities and festive events that will run from the first Saturday of every December until Armenian Christmas on January 19th of each year.
The various Bethlehem Destination Christmas stakeholders have united to combine their talents, experiences, and shared passion in an effort to reposition Bethlehem as the world’s essential Christmas icon. Working in concert with various partner cities in Palestine and around the world, BDC is promoting Bethlehem's centrality
to the international Christmas tradition, facilitating intercultural exchange, and revamping the tourism industry in Bethlehem and throughout Palestine.
Internationally, BDC is attending international tourism fairs to promote the initiative. In March 2016 at ITB Berlin, the largest tourism fair in the world, BDC screened a promotional film that received a Second Star Award, with over 40 journalists in attendance at the press conference. BDC envisions future participation at international tourism fairs in Spain, England, and Germany, and has been working to cultivate relationships with local and international bloggers, journalists, travel writers, musicians, tourists, universities, and providers of international media coverage. These relationships will help the initiative achieve its goals of reviving the tourism industry in Bethlehem, generating job opportunities, and bringing attention to the beautiful traditions of Palestinian cultural heritage.
Every year, Bethlehem, Beit Jala, and Beit Sahour will each have the opportunity to sponsor a weekend (Thursday-Sunday) between the beginning of December and the Armenian Christmas celebration in January, giving local vendors, artists, musicians, and citizens the opportunity to share the Palestinian culture and Christmas traditions with the international community. Activities will include the lighting of the Manger Square Christmas Tree in synchronization with sister cities such as Amsterdam, Berlin, and Strasbourg, an International Christmas Market featuring Palestinian food, drink and handicrafts, and an internationally recognized choir festival. The official launch of the full BDC schedule is on December 2, 2017, but there will be a celebratory soft launch, featuring a performance by the acclaimed Oslo Philharmonic Choir, at the official Manger Square Tree Lighting on December 3, 2016. Bethlehem Destination Christmas presents an opportunity for the local community to celebrate and prosper, and for the international community to Follow the Star to Bethlehem, just as the Magi did over 2000 years ago.