The positive trend in foreign tourist overnights in Israeli hotels continued in February. Figures published by the Israel Hotel Association economic department show that foreign tourists accounted for 824,000, approximately half, of the 1.6 million overnights in Israeli hotels in February. This figure is 18% more than the number of foreign tourist overnights in February 2017 and 46% more than the number in February 2016.
The main beneficiaries are hoteliers in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv; most of the overnights were in Jerusalem (34%) and Tel Aviv (21%). The number of Israeli overnights in hotels in February was 778,000, about the same as in the corresponding month last year.
The number of hotel rooms also grew. According to the figures, the current number of available hotel rooms is 54,095, 3% more than last year and 6% more than in 2016. The construction boom is continuing - new hotels were recently opened in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and even in Eilat construction of a new hotel is beginning, following a halt for many years.
The Ministry of Tourism's grants to developers totaled NIS 181 million. These grants involved construction of 2,570 rooms in 35 projects to be opened in the coming years. The biggest grant, NIS 35 million, is expected to be for preserving and building a low-cost hotel in Jerusalem with 248 rooms. Grants were approved for five projects in Jerusalem with a total of 482 rooms.
Plans also include a 356-room hotel in Netanya, 240-room vacation hotel in Rishon Lezion, and a hotel in Bat Yam with 275 luxury suites. Grants for developers are according to the Ministry of Tourism's criteria and mapping of priority areas. These areas do not include Tel Aviv and Herzliya.
Occupancy rates are increasing in tandem with the number of overnights: the nationwide occupancy rate reached 62% in February, 5% higher than in February 2017 and 15% higher than in February 2016. The highest occupancy rate was in Tel Aviv - 69%, the highest in the past four years, followed by 68% at the Dead Sea. The occupancy rate also hit a four-year peak of 65% in Tiberias, followed by rates of 62% in Eilat and Jerusalem, 61% in Nazareth, 55% in Haifa, 51% in Netanya, and 49% in Herzliya.
The number of overnights in January-February was 3.2 million, 17% more than in the corresponding period last year and 44% more than in the corresponding period in 2016. Half of these overnights were by foreign tourists. Tel Aviv was recently ranked ninth on the list of the world's most expensive cities, a fact that is probably hampering potential growth in incoming tourist traffic in Israel.
In addition to high overnight prices, prices in Israel are usually an unpleasant surprise for visiting tourists, compared with the plunging prices of flights. A vacation in Israel is regarded as expensive, which is why the Ministry of Tourism's objective is to encourage construction of medium-rated hotels that will provide a wider range of prices.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on March 22, 2018
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