Tourism industry fares better in September [pg. 15]
avi krawitz
Despite continued concerns from the tourism industry, fewer businesses in the sector were in danger of closing in September as traffic rose for the holidays the economy showed signs of a slight recovery. "The Israeli economy is starting to overcome the effects the war had on business," said Reuven Kuvert, general manager of Dun & Bradstreet Israel. Sectors that showed the most improvement for the month were the tourism, repair contractors and retailers, according to the firm's monthly report on businesses in danger of closing. Kuvert noted that businesses had received reparations from the government and were in the recovery process, and he predicted that the overall situation would continue to improve in October. In September, 27.2 percent of businesses were in danger of shutting their doors, the survey found, a slight improvement from the August level of 28%. D&B singled out the tourism industry's performance as its number of businesses on the brink dropped by 5.2 percentage points to 15.6% for the month. In August, 20.8% of tourism businesses were in danger of closure which rose to 23% during the period of the war, D&B said. The statistics come even as the tourism industry has been very vocal about its fate since the war having reported a slow September and warning about an even quieter November. "The holidays cater to a very specific religious market," said Ami Hirchstein, CEO of the Dan Hotels and VP of the Israel Hotels Association. "The regular tourist is still not coming because they still perceive Israel as unsafe in the aftermath of the war." He dismissed claims that November was seasonally quiet reiterating that business would not soon return to pre-war levels. D&B economists, meanwhile, agreed that the September improvement was somewhat expected given the comparison to August, which was plagued by the conflict. "We must remember that the chagim are generally a stronger period for tourism," said Moshe Bardugo, vice president information at B&D. "We saw that the foreigners are still not coming and any recovery, particularly in the North, was initiated by internal traffic." Even among local travelers, many were day visitors to places in the North and people still avoided border areas in the region, Bardugo added. In another sign of an improving tourist market, the Israel Airports Authority reported Sunday that the number of passengers passing through Ben-Gurion Airport over the last two weeks rose 11.2% to 372,517 compared to the parallel period October 1-14 last year. Industry professionals attributed the increase to the high volume of Israeli travelers this year, many who missed out on their summer vacations during the war, as well as to the overall rise in airline capacity flying to Israel. Among other big improvers in the monthly survey included repair contractors which had saw the number of businesses on the verge of closing improve to 29.4% in September from 38.6% in August, boosted by a rise in home repairs carried out for the holidays. While all sectors in the economy showed improvement month-to-month, D&B said that restaurants remained the worst off with 59.9% of businesses in danger of closing. The chemicals and gas industry and electronics equipment businesses proved to be the strongest sectors in September with just 13% of businesses in each on the verge of closure.
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