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Hotels around the country were on average 46 percent full in January, down from the parallel month last year when occupancies were at 48%, the Central Bureau of Statistics said this week.
In total, the hotels recorded 1.2 million overnight stays during the month, of which 42%, or 499,000 were Israelis and the remaining 677,000 were foreign tourists.
CBS reported a drop in the numbers in all regions across the country except Tel Aviv, where there were 60,600 overnight stays, up 5.8% from January 2006.
Jerusalem hotels recorded the biggest drop, falling 9.6% to 44,100 nightly bookings, closely followed by the North where the decline was by 9.3% to 33,000. Reservations at Haifa hotels dropped 1.6% to 44,000 overnight stays, while bookings in the Center fell 3.2% to 45,000 and those in the South slumped 6.3% to 47,300.
While January is viewed as a seasonally slow month for the industry, the CBS noted that bookings were still influenced by the war in Lebanon last July, in particular with regard to foreign tourist bookings.
The effects of the war are being reversed, however, as the CBS reported that over the last three months, overnight stays have risen when taking into account the seasonally adjusted figures.
In these terms, hotel overnight stays reached around 1.58 million in the average month from November to January, compared to an average 1.46 million over the preceding three months, the bureau said.
Boosting Beduin tourist sites
Israeli travel agents are looking to strengthen Beduin tourist sites in the Negev after visiting the area Wednesday.
The Tourism Ministry said a large group of agents joined outgoing Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog on the tour in order to focus their efforts to encourage tourism to non-Jewish sectors in Israel - in this case the Beduin community.
"Developing businesses in the Beduin community is a central tool in the fight against poverty," Herzog said during the visit adding that he would continue to work to advance the sector when he leaves the Tourism Ministry to take on the Welfare portfolio within the next two weeks.
Wondering Jew sms service launched
Traditional Jews looking for synagogue services, a kosher meal or general information about the community they are visiting while traveling abroad, have had their prayers answered by Jerusalem-based hi-tech start-up Linguistic Agents with the launch of its new InfoJew sms service.
"The fact that much of this information may be found on the Internet, soon becomes irrelevant when one finds oneself in the middle of nowhere, far from an Internet cafe," said Simcha Margaliot, senior vice president and COO of Linguistic Agents. "InfoJew fills just that gap."
By sending an sms with one's question to "infojew," travelers can initially get information on all kosher restaurants, synagogues and mikvehs (ritual baths) found in every major travel destination in Europe. The company said that as the service develops, the times of Shabbat and holiday services, as well as information such as data on local rabbis, Jewish tourist sites and Chabad houses will be added. It also will have coverage in Israel in the rest of the world, Linguistic Agents said. The service will start this month.
Arkia adds Haifa-Eilat flight
Arkia Israeli Airlines has added another weekly flight on its Haifa to Eilat route. The airline said the new flight will operate on Wednesdays on an open seating basis and that tickets will cost NIS 129 per leg.
Arkia already operates flights between the two cities on Sundays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Arkia added that it would continue to give benefits to soldiers on the flights.