2018 was the biggest year for hotel occupancy in Israel since 1995, the Israel Hotel Association announced. The increase was due to the large number of tourists who visited Israel during the year – over 4 million, the highest number ever – combined with a dearth of hotel construction. Guests spent those nights in the country’s 54,396 hotel rooms – 1,037 more rooms than in 2017. Eighty percent of those new rooms were opened in Tel Aviv and Herzliya.
Israelis and visitors spent 25.5 million nights in Israeli hotels, 4-percent more than in 2017 and 14-percent more than in 2016. Room occupancy in 2018 averaged 68 percent around the country, compared to 67 percent in 2017 and 62 percent in 2016.
Tel Aviv had the most “crowded” hotels, with average occupancy of 75 percent. Tel Aviv was followed by Eilat, with an average 73-percent occupancy rate. Dead Sea Hotels had a 70-percent rate, followed by Yerushalayim (69 percent), Haifa (66 percent), Nazareth (65 percent), Teveria and the Kinneret region (64 percent), Herzliya (63 percent) and Netanya (60 percent).
Many of those who stayed in hotels in 2018 came from abroad, as the hotel guest rate of Israelis has plummeted over the past three years. More Israelis prefer to vacation abroad – with a 43-percent increase in the number of Israelis traveling during that time – thanks to the lower airline ticket prices under the Open Skies policy.
The total number of overnight hotel stays by Israelis was 13.6 million in 2018, with nearly half of the stays in Eilat. Among tourists, who constituted 46 percent of overnight hotel stays, the most popular destination was Yerushalayim, where 34 percent of them stayed.
Tel Aviv was second in popularity, with 24 percent of the total number of overnight stays. Teveria and the Kinneret region were third, with 11 percent of overnight stays.
In a statement, the Association said that “the gap between the number of tourists and the number of Israelis staying in hotels can be explained largely by the increase in alternative options for guests,” such as AirBnB. In addition, it said, there were many tourists who stayed in lodgings in the Palestinian Authority, or in Jordan, after landing in Eilat and taking a bus across the border.