Hoteliers: We’re Not Feeling Tourist Boom

Ben Gurion, Terminal 1
A departure screen at Ben Gurion International Airport. (Flash90)

Despite April being a record month for tourism, it was far from that for the hotel industry in Israel. Hoteliers reported last week that they had enjoyed a 23 percent increase in overnight stays in April 2017 over a year earlier. However, those figures were 9 percent lower than in 2014, despite the fact that tourism this year has outdone the 2014 figures.

Hoteliers attributed the discrepancy to competition from new services like AirBnB, which provides a platform to let home and apartment owners rent out their properties to visitors. Increasing in popularity, AirBnB listings are usually significantly cheaper than hotels, although they may not include all the amenities of hotels.

Yerushalayim saw the biggest increase in hotel stays, which were 40 percent higher than in 2016. Nazareth also saw a significant increase — rising 33 percent. With that, hoteliers said that even in the strongest markets there were plenty of vacancies, with an average occupancy rate of 61 percent.

According to numbers from the Tourism Ministry, some 349,000 tourists entered Israel in April — the highest-ever monthly total for any month since the establishment of the state. Many of those tourists came for Pesach. This year’s April figure was 38 percent higher than the number in April 2016, which also included numbers for Pesach.