In the wake of Monday's terror attack at the Sharon Mall in Netanya, which left five dead and over 60 injured, the city's hoteliers have called upon the government to help the battered city recapture its status as one of Israel's leading tourist destinations.
"Its near impossible to build a tourism structure and market the city effectively when it's hit by a bomb every four months," said Shen Naor, VP of the Israel Hotels Association, and manager of the Seasons Hotel in Netanya. "Almost immediately after the attack on Monday we were faced with cancellations from tourists who went to the Dead Sea instead."
It was the third suicide bombing outside the Sharon mall in four years and another reminder for the city that it has become a favorite target for Palestinian terror.
This does not bode well for a city that relies so heavily on the industry.
"Approximately 3,000 households in Netanya live off tourism related revenue, Naor said. "English speaking tourists, for whom Netanya was a primary destination, no longer come and we are worried that we will lose the French and Russian speakers as well."
In light of this, the Israel Hotels Association called on the Finance Ministry to invest in a marketing campaign to encourage tourism to Netanya and to allocate a special budget to help hotels with much needed renovations.
While tourism to Israel has enjoyed resurgence after a four year lull brought on by the Intifada, Netanya's recovery has been relatively slow.
Occupancy in the city's hotels has averaged around 46% this year, compared to close on 70% in 2000 and the national average of 57% in the first nine months of the year.
The request came even as reports emerged that US real estate tycoon Donald Trump planned to build a resort in the city. Naor was enthusiastic about the plan but was not sure it would solve the immediate need.
"This would be great for Netanya but such a project would take over a decade to complete," he said.
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