The flight schedule at Ben Gurion Airport is proceeding as usual as of this morning despite the security situation and rocket alerts from Gaza. El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL) said that its flight schedule would be as planned, "depending on instructions from the relevant agencies." No changes in flight schedules were announced by foreign airlines, including British Airways and Lufthansa, nor by Arkia Airlines or Israir, including inland flights.
El Al nevertheless stated, "Due to the security situation, El Al will allow changes and cancellations at no cost, and will not charge handling fees for changes and cancellations, in flights taking off up until Saturday, November 16, 2019."
El Al also said, "Passengers with tickets for El Al flights taking off up until November 27, 2019 wishing to fly on earlier flights can do so without paying handling fees and price differences, if any."
In incoming tourism, which is in its peak season, there have been no cancellations so far. Israel Incoming Tour Operators Association CEO Yossi Fatael said that most activity was focusing on switching planned tours to northern Israel. Many groups are being hosted in Israel at present, including 200 travel agents from the US, who are visiting Israel in an exposure tour under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Tourism. Fatael remarked that Incoming Tour Operators Association representatives were greeting over 200 groups at Ben Gurion Airport who had arrived in Israel as scheduled.
Will the security escalation change the plans of Israelis who planned to go on vacations in Israel or overseas? The Gulliver travel website says that at this stage, no cancellations of flights and vacations in Israel or overseas have been recorded.
Gulliver CEO Ziv Rozen nevertheless adds, "We are getting a large number of calls at the customer service center from customers who bought tickets and vacations in Israel asking whether the internal flights booked for today will leave on schedule. We have put as many extra people in the call centers as possible in order to provide a remote response to any query via e-mail or WhatsApp.
"Past experience shows that if the fighting persists for a long time, customers will ask to postpone or cancel their vacations."
When this report is published, it will still be early morning in Europe and night in the US. It is therefore too early to tell whether the security situation will cause a wave of cancellations of vacations in Israel.
Incoming tourism could also be affected
The escalation in the security situation is likely to affect the incoming tourism sector. This sector is very sensitive to security events, and responds immediately, with visitors who do not have to be there keeping away from countries with security tension. On the other hand, the fact that many destinations have experienced security events or terrorism events in recent years, including Asian and European countries and the US, is making tourism more resistant to cancellations of vacations and flights.
The number of tourists visiting Israel has been rising consistently. Tourist entries rose 11% in September-October, compared with the corresponding period last year. The number of tourists visiting Israel has risen 10% since the beginning of the year. Israel finished 2018 with 4.1 million tourist entries, including 450,000 in October. It is to be hoped that this trend will continue in November.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 12, 2019
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