"Open skies deferral blow to tourism"

Hotel Association president Ami Federman: Hundreds of thousands of tourists will not come to Israel.

"We are disappointed and surprised by the government's zig-zag. This is a cynical move, and election economics," Ami Federman, president of the Israel Hotel Association, told "Globes" today. Federman was responding to the decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz to defer the final signing of the open skies agreement with the European Union, because of the approaching elections.

"The explanation that the agreement is being deferred because of the election is ridiculous," says Federman. "I fail to understand how the state can sacrifice its true interests for the sake of other interests. I don't understand this surrender to narrow interests, instead of seeing the general good. I presume that it's a case of various workers committees, that this is not the time to annoy them. I presume that that is what's going on, and that it is not a matter of wanting to penalize the EU."

El Al workers committee chairman Asher Edri said in response that there was no connection. "I'm happy to see that the government understood that difficult decisions should not be made in a transition period. We didn't pressure anyone. We are hardly involved in this. We requested, and we will also request of the new government, fair competition. We are not afraid of the competition that this agreement will bring, but it should be fair," Edri said.

Federman added that deferral of the agreement meant a mortal blow to tourism. "This is especially serious in this period when tourism is suffering from the consequences of Operation Pillar of Cloud. Incoming tourism has been extremely hard hit, and the state is not lifting a finger. Deferral of the open skies agreement will prevent airlines from flying here, such as Ryanair, which was due to fly about 50,000 tourists to Eilat in the next few months. Cancelling the signing of the agreement with the Europeans next week also means the end of the agreement with Ryanair, and further aviation agreements with other European airlines will also be prevented, and that means preventing the arrival of hundreds of thousands of tourists next year and in the coming years," he said.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 13, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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