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Tourists in Jerusalem .(Photo by: Harel Rinzler)
Trade group: Palestinian hotels drawing tourists away from Israel
Improving quality and infrastructure and low prices in Palestinian hotels is giving Israeli tourist operators a run for their money.
Improving quality and infrastructure, and low prices, in Palestinian hotels is giving Israeli tourist operators a run for their money, the Israel Incoming Tour Operators Association said Tuesday.

Speaking at the industry group’s annual outlook meeting in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, IITOA director Ami Etgar said that tourists who come to visit Israel and the territories are spending increasing portions of their finite trips in the latter.

Part of the reason is because they are finding cheaper places to stay at increasingly good quality, so they don’t abscond back to Israel for the night after day trips to sites like Bethlehem.

Even without the competition from the Palestinian hoteliers, Israel must increase the number of hotel rooms some 30 percent over its current 50,000 rooms if it wants to hit the goal of 4 million tourists in 2014, and 5 million by 2017.

In both 2012 and 2013 3.5 million travelers visited Israel.

“It was a good year but not a breakout year, which in my view is one that steps up the level,” said IITOA chairman Shmuel Marom.

Israel also needs to become more amenable to Asian tourists, the group said, noting that by 2020, 40 percent of all global tourists would come from the Far East.

Tourism contributed NIS 40 billion to the economy in 2013, employing some 100,000 people directly and another 195,000 people indirectly, according to the Tourism Ministry.
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