Inflow of Indian pilgrims to Bethlehem on the rise

Travel agents are reporting a booming inflow of pilgrims from across the globe this year, the largest number since the outbreak of intifada nine years ago.

They say that of the large numbers, Indians form one of the largest group of pilgrims.
"Indian tourists never deserted Bethlehem. The important thing about them is that they continued to put up at local hotels during difficult times which helped in their survival. Most of the other tourists prefer staying in Jerusalem and making day trips to Bethlehem", Fadi Kattan, the owner of ACA Travel and Tourism, told PTI.

"The other good thing about Indian tourists is that they stay here for longer durations. In times of crisis for the tourism industry, they came as a blessing", Kattan added.
Dozens of Indian tourists could be spotted among the thousands of tourists that turned up for the midnight mass.

"I have been waiting for this for years now. It is dream come true for me. I am going to spend some time here going around with my friends before leaving for India", Johnny from Mumbai, who is visiting Bethlehem for the midnight mass with a group of Indian tourists, said.

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