Israeli travelers unfazed by US travel warning to Europe

Travel agent: Since the end of last week, when the Jewish holiday period was over, we have actually witnessed a rise in demand.

By RON FRIEDMAN
October 6, 2010 05:37
3 minute read.
El AL Plane (Illustratory)

EL AL Plane 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

While Europe braces for a tourism slump following the American State Department’s travel alert, warning the public of possible terrorist threats in European cities, so far the alert has had no perceptible effect on the travel patterns of Israelis.

Tourism professionals in Israel told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that they have noted no cancellations on flights to the destinations mentioned in the alert and no slowdown in ticket sales in the three days since the alert was issued.

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The State Department travel alert advised US citizens living or traveling in Europe, to take more precautions over their personal security. The alert is one step below a formal travel warning advising Americans not to visit Europe.

“So far we haven’t felt any effects from the travel alert. All our flights to Europe are full and we have registered no canceled bookings to the destinations mentioned in the alert,” said El Al spokeswoman Anat Freedman.

“This time of year, immediately after the summer holiday and the High Holiday period, is often a slower time of the year as far as tourist travel is concerned, but we have no indication that people are changing their travel plans because of the warning.”

Tal Muscal, who represents German airline Lufthansa in Israel, said that they too have noted no change as a result of the alert. Despite the fact that several German landmarks, including the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and the city’s central train station were on the list of possible targets, Muscal said their flights from Tel Aviv to Frankfurt and Munich remained fully booked.

Noam Ron, the marketing director of Issta, a major Israeli travel company, said that so far the alert has had no effect on ticket and package sales and suggested that the reason for the perceived nonchalance may be the resilient nature of Israelis.

“Israelis are experienced when it comes to travel warnings and tend to take them in stride. I think that the fact that the warning was fairly general and not pinpointed and that the counter-terrorism bureau of the National Security Council didn’t issue a warning of its own, also put people more at ease.

Unfortunately even when the National Security Council does issue a warning, Israelis often ignore it, so all the more so when it’s issued by a foreign country,” said Ron.

Dana Lavi, marketing director for Hadaka 90, a company that specializes in last-minute flight and hotel bookings, said that Israelis were used to hearing about travel warnings and might take them a bit more lightly than Americans or Europeans do. Lavi said that if there was indeed a drop in Israeli travel to Europe her company would be the best indicator since it specialized in catering to people’s spontaneous travel needs and would see the decline immediately.

“Since the end of last week, when the Jewish holiday period was over, we have actually witnessed a rise in demand. This is the time of year when people tend to travel less, but this year we are seeing positive numbers,” said Lavi.

“Travel patterns are changing.

Fewer people are going on vacation to the southern Mediterranean destinations and more are going to places like Europe, the Far East and the United States, but this is normal for this time of year and cannot be linked to the alert.”


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