The Eilat winter tourism season is officially underway, and this year is expected to be the biggest ever for Eilat tourism – with some 140,000 visitors expected in the city. Many of those tourists will come from Europe, after the institution of flights from many new destinations. Last winter, Eilat saw about 120,000 tourists.
Responsible for the increase is the Open Skies policy of the ministry, officials said, as well as the expansion of services for flights. Most international flights to Eilat now land at the Ovda Airfield north of the city, and when the Ramon International Airport opens – as it is scheduled to in the coming months – flights will be transferred there. Construction of the airport is just about complete, and some El Al and Arkia flights have already landed there, as officials test the facility.
Among the new routes to and from Eilat are flights coming from Frankfurt, Madrid, Zurich and Amsterdam. Extra flights have been added by various carriers from, Prague, Budapest, Sofia and London. Altogether, some 30 foreign carriers will be flying to and from Eilat. More than 2,900 incoming and outgoing flights are set to fly into and out of Eilat by April 30, the official end of the winter tourist season. That would be an increase of 30 percent over the number of flights to the city last winter.
“In the wake of our Open Skies policy, there is now competition between Ben Gurion Airport and airports in the south,” said Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz. “Israelis can now fly to Europe on direct, scheduled flights for less money, and foreign visitors are more likely to come to Eilat as well.”