The incoming tourism crisis is getting worse in the wake of Operation Protective Edge last summer. Tourist overnights were down 20% in June, and tourist overnights in January-June totaled 4.1 million, 25% less than in the first six months of 2014, according to figures published today by the Israel Hotel Association economic department.
No end to the tourism crisis is in sight. According to the Hotel Association, the drop was steepest in Eilat, where overnights totaled 303,000, 46% fewer than in the corresponding period last year. Overnights amounted to 216,000 at the Dead Sea (down 34%), 433,000 at Tiberias and Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) (29%), 97,000 in Nazareth (28%), 1.3 million in Jerusalem (27%), 155,000 in Netanya (24%), 1.1 million in Tel Aviv (14%), and 107,000 in hotels in Haifa (17%). Overnights in Herzliya totaled 96,000, up 4%, compared with the corresponding period last year. The increase is due to a rise in the number of hotel rooms in the city.
Israelis are making up somewhat for the decline in incoming tourism. Overnights by Israelis totaled 5.9 million in January-June, 8% more than in the corresponding period last year.
The catastrophe, as the hoteliers refer to it, is also reflected in the national room occupancy rate, which was 59% in the first six months of the year, down 9%, compared with the first half of 2014. According to the Hotel Association, the drop in occupancy rates extended to all areas.
The occupancy rate was 54% in Jerusalem (down 22%), 38% in Nazareth (20%), 51% in Tiberias and the surrounding areas (15%), 52% in Netanya (13%), 69% at the Dead Sea (8%), 71% in Tel Aviv (6%), 53% in Herzliya (6%), 64% in Eilat (4%), and 57% in Haifa (4%).
Hotel Association head Noaz Bar-Nir said, "The crisis in incoming tourism has caused a loss of 2.7 million tourist overnights in Israel, costing hotels NIS 1.2 billion in lost revenue. We haven't seen such a long and deep crisis for a decade."
According to Bar-Nir, these gloomy figures require an immediate supplement for Israel's tourism advertising budget, "otherwise, we'll find ourselves mired in the same crisis, without a ray of hope, in late 2015 and early 2016. The current situation, in which the state's marketing budget is only NIS 120 million (half the ordinary marketing budget before it was cut), is unreasonable, and a rapid government response in the form of an immediate NIS 170 million supplement is needed, without any further delay."
In the recent Knesset discussion on this issue, Knesset Finance Committee chairman MK Moshe Gafni demand the immediate grant of this sum to the tourism sector.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 22, 2015
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