At Jesus’s birthplace, an app is born to ease crowds

Bethlehem is buzzing, with more tourists expected this Christmas than have visited the Biblical city in years, causing the kind of problem that modern technology was almost born to deal with. Such are the crowds at the church built on the site where Jesus is believed to have been born that the authorities are planning to introduce an advance reservation system through an app. Ensuring regular flow The app, which will be introduced early next year, is aimed at ensuring a regular flow of tourists at the Church of the Nativity, where at busy times visitors wait hours to see the underground grotto where Christians believe Jesus was born in a manger. Details of the app, which will be in English to start, are still being worked out. The three churches that share control of the site — the Catholics, Greek Orthodox and the Armenian Church — say such an app is needed. “There are times when for us there are specific prayers, celebrations, or masses, or with all the sects praying,” Orthodox priest Issa Thaljieh said outside the church. “So of course there is a huge squeeze. With the app, everyone will know what time to enter and which groups are there, so it will become more organised.” The first church was built on the site in the fourth century, though it was replaced after a fire in the sixth century. Its mosaics were recently restored in a major project. Barbora Salyova, a 29-year-old tourist said the app could be useful for pilgrims like herself. “This is a step we definitely planned to make,” she said. Tourism in Bethlehem is enjoying its best season in years, with hotels reporting especially high occupancy rates for the Christmas period, said Elias Al-Arja, chairman of the Hotels Association Palestine.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-life/at-jesuss-birthplace-an-app-is-born-to-ease-crowds/article25793543.ece

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