Tourism Slump Drags On, Government Help Sought

YERUSHALAYIM -

The Israeli tourism industry has failed to recover from a serious downturn since the end of Operation Protective Edge last summer, and business leaders are turning to the government for a rapid response, Globes said on Wednesday.

Tourist overnights were down 20% in June, and overnights during the first six months of this year totaled 4.1 million, 25% less than the same period in 2014, according to figures released by the Israel Hotel Association’s economic department.

Said Hotel Association head Noaz Bar-Nir: “The crisis in incoming tourism has caused a loss of 2.7 million tourist overnights in Israel, costing hotels 1.2 billion shekels in lost revenue. We haven’t seen such a long and deep crisis for a decade.”

Bar-Nir said that government help is urgently needed, in the form of a supplement to Israel’s tourism advertising budget. “Otherwise we’ll find ourselves mired in the same crisis, without a ray of hope, in late 2015 and early 2016,” he warned.

“The current situation, in which the state’s marketing budget is only NIS 120 million (half the ordinary marketing budget before it was cut), is unreasonable, and an immediate 170 million supplement is needed without any further delay.”

The crisis is also reflected in the national room occupancy rate, which was 59% in the first six months of the year, down 9%, compared with the first half of 2014.

An uptick in domestic tourism has softened the blow somewhat. Overnights by Israelis totaled 5.9 million in January-June, 8% more than in the corresponding period last year.