Visitors to Jordan need to remember their manners and follow the rules, the Tourism Ministry is reminding Israelis.
The ministry has received complaints - and not for the first time - that Israelis visiting the historical site at Petra are entering the area via unapproved passages in order to avoid entrance fees, and that some Israelis are staying overnight at the site against Jordanian regulations. Such activities represent a safety risk, the Tourism Ministry said, noting that Jordanian security officials have been forced, at times in the middle of the night, to locate Israelis camping illegally at the site and escort them to more secure accomodations.
In addition to safety considerations, the ministry said Israelis' bad behavior abroad causes the country public relations damage. "Much has been written in the past about Israelis' behavior as tourists," a ministry press release noted, urging Israelis to "take responsibility for themselves and for the image of the State."
Hotels still suffering from Second Lebanon War
The number of overnight hotel stays in Israel has not yet recovered from last summer's war with Hizbullah, the Israel Hotels Association reported in its latest newsletter. First-quarter hotel stays were down eight percent in 2007 from the same period a year ago, the IHA said.
Most of the difference, unsurprisingly, can be attributed to decreased tourism from overseas, but foreign tourists aren't the only ones keeping their distance from Israeli hotels. The number of overnight hotel stays by Israelis themselves dropped by one percent between the first quarters of 2006 and 2007, the IHA noted, urging increased government funding to promote tourism as a central solution to the problem.
Hub upgrades for Delta and BA
Delta Airlines and British Airways are preparing for major changes at their hub airports, with each looking to decrease check-in time and other logistical hassles for passengers flying through the two companies' "home" facilities.
Flyers passing through Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport will encounter more check-in kiosks and upgraded service facilities when they arrive at the airport this summer, part of a $26 million upgrade Delta is investing in its hub. The company, which recently extricated itself from Chapter 11 and is now expanding, expects to reach a new record of 1,060 take-offs per day from its Atlanta base, including the daily service to Tel Aviv the airline reinstituted last year.
In the slightly more distant future, British Airways is preparing for the opening next March of Terminal 5, its own section of London's Heathrow Airport. Designed to process up to 100,000 passengers per day, Heathrow's new BA wing will allow Israelis flying through London to remain in a single terminal before making their connecting flight, easing the process of continuing on BA to other destinations.
Creative with summer offerings
Well-traveled Israelis looking for a different sort of summer trip will have at least two new options in the coming months. Israeli travel agencies Eshet Tours and Olam Aher ("A Different World") are both offering first-of-their-kind packages, though each is likely to appeal to a different type of tourist.
Eshet Tours, for its part, is offering the company's first organized tour of Morocco, an 11-day trip that departs at the end of June and will feature stops in Rabat, Fez, Casablanca and Marrakesh. Led by an Israeli guide, the tour will include sites of significance in the history of Moroccan Jewry, as well as a sunrise visit to the Sahara Desert.
Olam Aher, meanwhile, is arranging package deals to Crete for "naturism" lovers. Naturism, for the uninitiated, is actually a synonym for "nudism," with Olam Aher promoting visits to the Vritomartis Hotel, a clothing-optional establishment located a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the international airport in Heraklion, Crete's capital. According to the travel agency, the bulk of naturism lovers at the Vritomartis are professionals from western Europe - "lawyers, doctors and businesspeople" looking for a few weeks of clothing-free relaxation. Rooms in the hotel do include closets, Olam Aher notes, for guests interested in nature tours and dining outside the Vritomartis, where, for better or worse, tourists are expected to arrive fully dressed.