More than 4,000 tourism workers out of work following coronavirus crisis

The estimated annual damage to the industry is estimated at NIS 4.2 billion – about NIS 350 million a month.

TAKE A few laps in the main pool at the Milos Dead Sea Hotel. (photo credit: ASAF PINCHUK/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
TAKE A few laps in the main pool at the Milos Dead Sea Hotel.
Nearly 4,000 workers are on unpaid vacation leave due to the severe crisis that has hit since the coronavirus took flight in Israel.
"This is the worst crisis in the history of Israel's hotel industry – the industry is on the verge of collapse," warned Hotel Association President Amir Haik. "If there is no immediate government assistance, a massive amount of workers will be fired and the industry will lose more than half of its employees."
Hotel association figures show that in the current situation, the annual damage to the industry is estimated at NIS 4.2 billion, or about NIS 350 million a month. Hotel occupancy rates dropped by 40%, which is 30% on average lower over the same period last year. Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are taking the brunt of the decline, sharing about 30% of the decline.
Tour bus drivers are also worried about the worsening crisis. Faced with a sharp decline in tourism, there are hundreds of drivers that will lose their salary. Producers and organizers of events warned that the cancellation of events on Purim will cause a loss of 180 million shekels. The concern comes from a wave of cancellations of hundreds of events that were to take place in the coming months.
In addition to the bus drivers and hotels, the council for honey growers is taking a hard financial hit due to the closure of entry for workers from the West Bank. An emergency meeting was held at the chamber of commerce, in which more than 50 retail chain representatives from food to cosmetics were in attendance.
"Goods that arrive from outside the country, that manufacturers have stopped producing, wait outside the ports," said vice president of the chamber of commerce Amir Shani during the conference, noting that 21 ships were docked outside Ashdod Port, and 23 outside Haifa.
Meanwhile, Shufersal, a grocery store chain in Israel, is trying to recruit about 400 employees as fast as possible in order to support the growing demand in grocery deliveries. The demand in deliveries as of right now has less to do with those quarantined, than people's refusal to shop in public due to raised fears of contacting the virus.
As the coronavirus situation worsens, the Industrial Council of Naot Hovav in the Negev led by Gadi Alfasi has established a unique conference for the dozens of southern factories known as "essential enterprises" in an emergency.
The conference was chaired by Zion Yahaya, the council's emergency security director, in collaboration with representatives of the Economy Ministry and other emergency officials in the area. Among those participating were factory managers in the South, leaders of emergency and security teams, and government representatives. During the conference the participants learned about the ministry's definition for an essential factory, water emergency related issue, search and rescue defense policies, and instructions regarding labor detention on behalf of the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry, and more.
Translated by Celia Jean