Security Situation Discouraging Tourists

YERUSHALAYIM (Hamodia Staff) -

The war with Hamas is having an adverse effect on tourism,

Globes reported on Monday.

Approximately 30 percent of tourists who were planning to visit Israel in July-August have canceled their trips, and others are considering doing the same.

The rockets are also driving away those who already here. Israel Tourist and Travel Association director Yossi Fattal estimates that 25% of the tourists vacationing in Israel who came under fire cut short their visits and left Israel.

However, Israel Incoming Tour Operators Association chairman Shmuel Marom played down the situation. Very few tourists have left. Of those who remain, he says many have asked to transfer their excursions mainly to northern Israel.

The Israel Hotel Association reports that 30-40% of overseas tourists had left their hotels in Tel Aviv earlier than planned, while 30% of had canceled bookings for the coming months in hotels in Yerushalayim and Teveria.

“In order to encourage tourists to wait and not cancel their reservations yet, in other words, to leave them on hold,” Marom says, “an understanding has been reached with the airlines, hotels, tour guides and everyone in the sector in Israel that cancellation fees will not be charged for incoming tourism, although a final decision in the matter is up to each company individually, because the law bars a ban on cancellation fees. I am glad that the tourism industry has shown real maturity by making concessions to tourists.”

Internal tourism have been hit even harder. According to Fattal, as of now, new orders by Israelis for vacations in Israel have ceased altogether, and 20% of vacations within Israel already ordered have been canceled.

According to the Hotel Association, there have been mass cancellations at hotels in southern Israel, and the occupancy rate is currently at only 20-30%, consisting mostly of the security forces, Israeli and foreign media, and security company employees.

The summer season accounts for 40% of the annual income of travel agents, and it consists of foreign tourism, not Israeli.

Shlomo Scholnick, CEO of Travel Deal Israel, reports few cancelations and adds, “The frum world is calling daily inquiring about the situation and booking for August and for Sukkos.”