Israel’s tourism industry suffered cancellations of between 10 percent and 20%
during the eight days of Operation Pillar of Defense and a drop in future
reservations, the Tourism Ministry reported on Sunday.
The ministry said
the damage was felt not only in the rocketbattered south, but also in Tel Aviv
and Jerusalem, which were targeted by long range rockets from Gaza during the
In a press release it put out on Sunday, the ministry said
that Minister Stas Meseznikov and ministry Director-General Noaz Bar Nir met
with other industry leaders last Thursday to work on ways to return a sense of
normalcy to the industry.
The ministry said that in terms of flights to
Israel, the damage appears to only be short-term and that only a few charter
flights to Israel were canceled. The ministry added that in an effort to
reassure worried potential visitors, the Tour Guides Association recommended
during the meeting sending representatives to meet with overseas groups to allay
their concerns about visiting Israel.
Meseznikov told The Jerusalem Post
on Sunday that the ministry will also increase efforts to promote internal
Israeli tourism, in particular in the south, to increase tourism to the areas of
the country most hit by the war. He also said the ministry will increase
advertising in target countries like Russia, the US and the UK, with the hope of
returning the influx of tourists to the normal holiday level in time for
While his tone was one of optimism, Meseznikov did admit that
with tourism “it can take you years of work to try to increase the numbers of
incoming charter flights, but only six days to lose them.”
deputy chairman of the Incoming Tourism Unit of the Travel Agents Association,
sounded an optimistic tone as well, saying that the damage to Israel’s tourism
industry will most likely be only in the short term.
“Look at Egypt – you
had violent protests where hundreds were killed and by now the tourism has more
or less returned to where it was before.
There’s no reason it won’t come
back for Israel too.”
Fischer said it will be hard for Israel to bring
back those tourists who canceled their trips because in the meantime they found
alternative destinations, but that by Christmas the industry should see the
numbers of returning tourists they’re used to.
“There’s no reason to
Look at Operation Cast Lead in 2009 – it was a much longer
campaign, with a ground operation and more people killed, and still 2010 was a
recordbreaking year for tourism.”
Fischer, who began his career in
tourism around the time of the Palestine Liberation Front’s hijacking of the SS
Achille Lauro off the coast of Egypt in 1985, said he’s seen this movie play out
before, through crisis after crisis in the region.
“This isn’t the first
crisis I’ve seen the tourism industry here bounce back from, and it won’t be the