Israelis enjoy the day off on Election Day at Palmachim Beach south of Tel Aviv, March 16, 2015.
(photo credit: SHARON UDASIN)
With sunny skies and warm temperatures the entire week, more than 2.3 million people headed to the nation’s parks, nature reserves and forests throughout Succot.
From the beginning of Succot to Simhat Torah, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority reported more than 1.5 million visitors to its sites around the country, while Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund said more than 800,000 arrived to its destinations. Particularly popular were the special festivals at various parks organized by both the INPA and KKL-JNF, as well as campgrounds, bike trails and springs.
“In the excellent weather, accompanied by signs of autumn, more than 1.5 million visitors came to nature reserves and national parks throughout the holiday,” said Raya Shurki, INPA’s community director.
“The first days of the festival were marked by visits to many heritage sites in which travelers experienced the past in reenactments, markets and special activities, and were hosted in decorated succot that greeted guests at various places. The second half of the holiday was marked by many visits to water attractions and beaches, with many dozens of guided tours in nature.”
Similar to last Succot, the INPA said its most popular national parks and nature reserves visited over Succot were Caesarea National Park, Beit Guvrin National Park, Park Eshkol, the Stalactite Cave, Yarkon- Tel Afek National Park, Ashkelon National Park, the Banyas Nature Reserve and Snir Nature Reserve.
The INPA’s peak travel day was Saturday, during which 150,000 people visited its sites. That day, travelers headed in droves to water sites in the North, as well as the beaches under the INPA’s administration.
On Monday, the authority said it received about 100,000 travelers, with the highest number – 10,000 – visiting Palmahim Beach National Park, where a sand castle building event occurred that day.
Throughout the holiday, the INPA also noted a large number of visitors making use of its campgrounds, with more than 40,000 people spending nights at these sites.
KKL-JNF’s 800,000 visitors likewise headed to a wide range of destinations over the course of the holiday, with cyclists and hikers flocking to the organization’s forest paths and families enjoying meals under trees and succot in picnicking areas – where occupancy typically stood at about 70 percent, the fund said.
The peak travel day over the entire holiday for KKL-JNF was Wednesday, during which the organization said that nearly 250,000 visitors arrived to its sites, arriving in large numbers to the Galilee-Golan Heights Agriculture Festival, an olive harvest event, the Maccabee graves trek and other locations.
At the conclusion of the holiday week, both INPA and KKL-JNF officials expressed satisfaction with the performance of travelers regarding fire safety, emergency situations and cleanliness.
“Fortunately, during the holiday, a large number of rescues, fires and enforcement incidents were not reported,” the INPA said.
KKL-JNF expressed similar positive sentiments on Monday, particularly regarding the handling of litter.
“Foresters were satisfied with the conduct of the public, who used the garbage bags distributed by KKL-JNF and were careful to keep the sites and forests clean,” the KKL-JNF said.