Short-term boom for hotels outside of the North

Hotels in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the South are enjoying an unexpected boom this week as tourists change their travel plans to avoid the seasonally popular northern region, which is under attack from across the neighboring Lebanese border.

By AVI KRAWITZ
July 18, 2006 07:36
2 minute read.
dan hotel tel aviv 88

dan hotel tel aviv 88. (photo credit: )

 
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Hotels in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the South are enjoying an unexpected boom this week as tourists change their travel plans to avoid the seasonally popular northern region, which is under attack from across the neighboring Lebanese border. "We haven't had anyone check out early, because there is no reason to," Raphael Farber, chairman of the Royal Plaza Olive Tree Hotels and vice president of the Israel Hotels Association told The Jerusalem Post. "In fact, for us, the opposite is happening and we are getting groups from the North coming to stay with us. So in the short-term business is better than before." Farber added that, while all hotels, including in Jerusalem, were getting cancellations from tourists who have not yet arrived, the Olive Tree, which focuses on the Christian market, has not yet been truly tested as the busy pilgrimage season from the US comes in the Fall and Winter. For others, too, the acid test will be if cancellations extend to the final months of the year. "We are in a state of uncertainty at the moment and have been faced with cancellations in the short-term," said Ami Etgar, director general of the Israel Incoming Tour Operator Association. "But this is natural, and July and August are not the main issue. We are looking further to see if reservations for the fourth quarter will materialize and we believe they will if this crisis comes to an end in the next few weeks." Despite the low expected turnout in the next two months, Etgar said there was still an inflow of "loyal tourists" from the Orthodox communities in France and the US, which will ensure the tourist presence on the streets will not disappear completely. Current estimates show Eilat hotels are 95 percent full for the coming days, while Tel Aviv stands at around 80% occupancy and Jerusalem and Dead Sea hotels at between 70% and 80% capacity, a spokesperson for the IHA said. She added, however, that it was impossible to make any estimates for the end of the week or next week as the reservation figures do not reflect cancellations that have come in over the last few days. For many tourists staying out their vacations in those areas, the threats of war were not felt so strongly. "We have not felt threatened at all and it has been amazing to see how busy things were," said Steven and Lori Greenwood of Toronto, who, on their first trip to Israel, spent the last few days in Jerusalem. They added, however, that given the impact of the news in North America, they probably would have deferred their trip had the violence broken out before they came. Sam Bogen, of Delmar, New York, who is on his first trip to Israel since 1969, said he, too, likely would not have come had this been the situation before he and his wife left the States. They also might not have sent their daughter on the summer program she is participating in here. Meanwhile, on a diplomatic level, no country has updated its travel advisories to Israel in light of the last week's developments. US embassy spokesman Stewart Tuttle said the same advisory applies as has stood on the embassy Web site, which notably does not have any emphasis on travel to the North. The embassy urges US citizens in the country to keep up to date with the news and listen to Israeli government advisories about travel within the country.

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