I was handed the following from a shop keeper in Jerusalem and thought it worthwile passing on to other visitors.
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Welcome to Jerusalem and the fascinating, unique shops of the Old City, many of them family businesses, which have been serving visitors and pilgrims to this area for several hundred years.
You may have been warned not to go shopping by yourself in the Old City but to be escorted to special shops by your TOUR GUIDE. The reason for this is that * 35%* of any of your purchases in these shops will be commission for the TOUR GUIDE. In order for the TOUR GUIDE to earn such an extraordinarily high commission, you will be paying at least double the price charged in the ordinary shops of the Old City.
Christian, Jewish and Muslim small shopkeepers are suffering badly from the fact that visitors to Jerusalem are herded in groups and directed to a few businesses that monopolize tourist spending. The TOUR GUIDES exploit and play on people's fears to ensure visitors only buy from shops 'recommended' by the TOUR GUIDE and with whom they have arranged these special rates of commission.
Despite what your TOUR GUIDE may have told you, the Old City is actually one of the safest planes to shop and visit. It is monitored 24 hours by CCTV cameras operated by the Israeli police. Shopping in Jerusalem's Old City and talking to the locals should be part of the pleasure and experience of your visit. Don't let your TOUR GUIDE be the only person you meet and trust.
We invite you to visit ALL the shops before you purchase gifts and compare the variety and prices with those offered in the places you are taken into by your TOUR GUIDE. By looking in different shops of YOUR CHOICE not only will you be helping a wider range of shopkeepers of all faiths, you will also save yourself money.
Wishing you an enjoyable visit to Jerusalem.