Foreign tourism to Eilat expected to fall 20% this winter

Fattal Hotel Management CEO David Fattal: We'll open Club Med Eilat as planned in November.

Eilat tourism sources predict that the terrorist attacks in Sinai will cut foreign tourism to the town this winter by 20%. On the other hand, they also predict that the attacks will lead to an increase in domestic tourism, especially by older people and families who choose Eilat over Sinai.

54,000 tourists visited Eilat in 2003, and a similar number was expected this year. 60,000 foreign tourists visited Eilat in 2002. Eilat tourism sources believe that the Sinai attacks will cause European charter airlines to postpone the restoration of the level of flights to Eilat, especially from Scandinavia, to the pre-intifada levels.

There were 5.13 million hotel overnights by Israelis in Eilat in 2003. Hotels had an average occupancy rate of 60%, compared with 63% in 2002. 2.05 million Israelis visited Eilat in 2003, compared with 2.15 million in 2002. Eilat hotels recorded 464,000 overnights by foreign tourists in 2003.

Fattal Hotel Management owner and CEO David Fattal said, "Foreign tourists undoubtedly consider Eilat and Sinai as a single area. This attack is not good for Eilat. Regrettably, the tourists visiting Sinai are not the same as those visiting Eilat. Most Israelis who go to Sinai are young backpackers who do not vacation in places like Eilat."

Fattal announced that the hotel chain would not change its plans to open a Club Med hotel in Eilat in November, despite the attack. The new hotel is mainly aimed at French tourists. Fattal said the plan to bring hundreds of French tourists for the hotel's inauguration would not be changed. He predicted that the Sinai attacks would hurt Eilat's hotels this winter, especially over Christmas.

Some Israelis returning from renting huts in Sinai told the emergency headquarters that Sinai Bedouin had refused to help them reach the border. The emergency headquarters said vacationers who rented huts mostly suffered from emotional stress.

Published by Globes [online] - - on October 10, 2004

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