September proved to be as slow as expected for tourism with fewer than 100,000 foreign tourists having arrived in the country.
The Central Bureau of Statistics and the Tourism Ministry reported Sunday that, compared to last September when 156,800 tourists came, there was a 36 percent drop in arrivals, as the war in the North continued to influence the numbers.
"There is no doubt the determining factor in the decline has been the war in Lebanon," said Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog.
Herzog, who recently has come under increasing attack by the industry over the perceived insufficient marketing campaign abroad, said he believes that given the reports of thousands of visitors expected to arrive in the winter months, the industry soon will start to show signs of recovery.
The ministry expects 11,000 students from 25 countries to participate in the Taglit (Birthright) programs through the winter.
Having consistently shown 27% growth over 2005 in the pre-war, first-half of the year, the statistics showed that this slowed to a 1% year-on-year rise by the end of September as just over 1.4 million tourists arrived in the first nine months of 2006.
Meanwhile, outgoing tourism also has taken a knock with 2.9 million Israelis traveling abroad between January and September this year, 2% less than last year.
CBS said 358,000 Israelis traveled abroad in September alone, of which 309,000 were by air and 11,000 who crossed the border into the Sinai. Some 20,000 locals traveled more than once, of which 76% were male, CBS said.