A group of eight Chinese tourists who dined at the Abu Ghosh Restaurant in the village of Abu Ghosh in the Jerusalem Hills two weeks ago received the following bill:
- NIS 4,000 for hire of a private room
- NIS 650 for hors d'oeuvres and salads
- NIS 5,900 for alcohol
- NIS 3,150 for main courses
- NIS 1,350 for desserts
- NIS 1,500 service charge
Total: NIS 16,500.
The bill was distributed today by the The Israel Incoming Tour Operators Association with the following remarks: "A group of eight Chinese on a tour of Abu Ghosh stopped to eat at the Abu Ghosh Restaurant. The bill they received is attached. There may be a billion Chinese, but they may not all be suckers. These Chinese said they would not be back and would not recommend their friends to visit Israel.
"Naive customers are a very shaky basis for a business plan, and by behaving this way we are destroying with our own hands the budding potential of the Chinese market for Israel."
Some 47,000 Chinese visit Israel annually, about a third of them businesspeople. One of the goals of the Ministry of Tourism is to promote Chinese tourism and unlock its rich potential with a series of moves, which include for example adapting hotels to the needs of Chinese tourists and special tours.
The bill detailed above leaves a bad taste, but according to one of the restaurant's owners, Jawdat Ibrahim, it is justified.
"I received a telephone call that a group of Chinese tourists wanted to come to the restaurant, on condition that we close the restaurant to all other diners," he said. "We are talking about a Friday, and Friday and Saturday are the busiest days of the week for us. We have room for 300 people, and we closed it all for this group, which had the whole place to itself.
"They sat there from 3 pm on Friday until midnight, and became rowdy and drunk. They asked me to buy alcoholic drinks that I paid thousands of shekels for. They asked that the bar should be kept available, they asked for 30 kg of stuffed mutton and other dishes. It wasn't a case of eating and leaving, and they even took all their leftovers with them afterwards.
"The truth is that I thought that they should pay much more, since I had no other diners that day. They enjoyed themselves and thanked me, and now, two weeks later, they're trying to besmirch us. This was a realistic cost for the meal. We have meals for NIS 20 as well, and there are meals with a cost like this. If you analyze the total, you will realize that it is not a lot for what they received."
Update: After making further checks with the Chinese tourist group's travel agent and their guide, Israel Incoming Tour Operators Association CEO Yossi Fattal disputes Ibrahim's version of events. He says the group arrived at the restaurant after 7 pm, and that the restaurant was not closed specially for them, but that they only received a private room, while there were other diners in other parts of the restaurant at the time.
The Israel Incoming Tour Operators Association also says that the alcohol served at the meal was not ordered specially for the Chinese guests, and had been placed on the tables before the group arrived. According to the guide, the group was not served 30 kg of meat as claimed, and it stayed in the restaurant for about four hours.
"The Association decided to make this incident public in order to illustrate the importance of fair and polite treatment of tourists who come to Israel and are an important sector of the country's economy. Incoming tourism represents about 15% of total exports of services by the State of Israel, and is an important generator of employment in the periphery," Fattal said.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 5, 2016
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