(photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/IAN AND WENDY SEWELL)
Tourism to Israel in 2015 has still not recovered from the massive hit it took from the 2014 summer war with Gaza, data released by the Israel Hotel Association on Sunday showed.
The figures also showed the sector under performing through last month, relative to 2013.
In September, hotel occupancy rates stood at 58%, four percentage points higher than last September’s post war season, but still two points below the 2013 rate. Among foreigners, the roughly 511,000 guestnights stayed in hotels showed a 17% increase over 2014, and a 10% drop from 2013.
Domestic hotel stays were far higher, at roughly 1.3 million, greater than last September (7%) and the previous September (2%) as well.
“September’s hotel data shows that we have still not completely recovered from Protective Edge,” said Noaz Bar Nir, director-general of the Israel Hotel Association, referring to last year’s July-August war with Hamas. “Given the reality of the current security situation, the hotels are looking ahead to 2016 nervously,” he added.
The fact that internal tourists were such a significant portion of the country’s hotel customers may make it less surprising that the leader in hotel occupancy was the southern resort city of Eilat, which had a 72% occupancy rate, followed by the Dead Sea at 66% and Tel Aviv at 57%. Jerusalem hotels were just 51% full, while those in Nazareth and Herzliya bottomed out the list at 49%.
Data is not yet available for whether or how the wave of stabbing attacks in October has hit tourism.
A study by the Bank of Israel showed that typically, tourism in Israel drops in the aftermath of a major conflict or conflagration, but recovers after roughly a year. The damage from last year’s war, according to BoI, was largely due to lost consumption as well as a decline in tourism.
Declines in tourism accounted for roughly 60% of economic losses from the conflict, according to BoI.