Tourists in Jerusalem .
(photo credit: Harel Rinzler)
Improving quality and infrastructure, and low prices, in Palestinian hotels is
giving Israeli tourist operators a run for their money, the Israel Incoming Tour
Operators Association said Tuesday.
Speaking at the industry group’s
annual outlook meeting in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, IITOA director Ami Etgar said
that tourists who come to visit Israel and the territories are spending
increasing portions of their finite trips in the latter.
Part of the
reason is because they are finding cheaper places to stay at increasingly good
quality, so they don’t abscond back to Israel for the night after day trips to
sites like Bethlehem.
Even without the competition from the Palestinian
hoteliers, Israel must increase the number of hotel rooms some 30 percent over
its current 50,000 rooms if it wants to hit the goal of 4 million tourists in
2014, and 5 million by 2017.
In both 2012 and 2013 3.5 million travelers
“It was a good year but not a breakout year, which in my
view is one that steps up the level,” said IITOA chairman Shmuel
Israel also needs to become more amenable to Asian tourists, the
group said, noting that by 2020, 40 percent of all global tourists would come
from the Far East.
Tourism contributed NIS 40 billion to the economy in
2013, employing some 100,000 people directly and another 195,000 people
indirectly, according to the Tourism Ministry.