Tourism in Tel Aviv slowed to a trickle during the Gaza conflict, dealing a harsh blow to hotels, restaurants and nightlife.
As a result of the war in Gaza and the constant rocket fire that came with it, hotels lost NIS 180 million in revenues in July, the Israel Hotel Association said on Monday.
The number of overnight stays in hotel rooms was similar to that of summer, 2006, when the Second Lebanon War raged, and represented a 14% drop from July, 2013.
Predictably, the greatest drop in overnight stays came from tourists, who filled 24% fewer room bookings than the previous year.
Remarkably, the overall figures for the year were still higher at the end of July as a result of the strong tourism before the military operation broke out. From January to July, tourists spent 11% more nights in hotels room than in the same period in 2013. Before the operation began, tourism was up some 16%. Expectations for August, however, were down sharply.
The areas worst hit by the ebbing tourism were Nazareth, down 29%, followed by Tel Aviv and Herzliya, down 35%. All in all, just 59% of rooms were full in July, compared with 71% in July the previous year.
“I call on Finance Minister Yair Lapid to order now, without any delays, aid to hotels so that they can survive this difficult period and maintain their workers’ jobs,” said Eli Gonen, the hotel association’s president.
Tourism, he said, was the first industry to be hit by the security situation and the last to recover.
He predicted it would not fully bounce back until the first quarter of 2015.
Most of the compensation measures taken by the Finance Ministry thus far apply only to businesses within a 40 km. radius of Gaza.
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