Benefiting from the long Shavuot weekend, hotels are expecting high occupancy over the next two days mainly from Israeli holiday celebrators. Data supplied by The Israel Hotels Association showed that Eilat and the Dead Sea are once again the popular holiday destinations with 90 percent to 95% occupancy for the holiday. Israelis also will be traveling up north, with Haifa and Galilee hotels showing bookings for 90% of their rooms. Jerusalem hotels are expected to be between 80% and 90% full, as are those in Tiberias and smaller Kibbutz hotels, while Tel Aviv expects 75% occupancy and Netanya anticipating 60% to 70%. The IHA noted that despite the high bookings, there was still space available among the 47,000 rooms across the country. Making a comeback After three years during which occupancy at Jerusalem Hotels dropped by some 15%, the Jerusalem Hotels Association said tourists and Israelis alike are returning to the capital city. Last year, Jerusalem hotels had a 52% rise in tourist overnight stays, following a 48% increase in 2004. The trend continued into the first third of this year with a further 52% growth over the January to April period of 2005. The level, however, is still 16% lower than the peak 2000 level. Israeli bookings in the city rose 8% for the period. Jerusalem meets Japan Set to grace the streets of Jerusalem and other sites across the country, 13 Japanese sumo wrestlers will kick off their whirlwind Israel tour on Sunday, led by sumo legend and master Kotonowaka. The team will travel to the Dead Sea and through Jerusalem's holy sites during their week-long stay, in a program aimed at strengthening Japanese-Israeli ties and tourism. Meanwhile, the Central Bureau of Statistics and the Tourism Ministry said this week that Japanese tourism to the country rose 94% to 4,315 visitors in the first four months of the year, contributing to the overall 30% rise in foreign tourist arrivals for the period. A total 695,000 visitors arrived in the country, of which 173,973 were from the US, which had growth of 34%. Although arrivals from France declined 4% to 87,126, but the country still provided the second highest number of tourists. Arrivals from the UK rose 26% to 58,987, while Canada increased 38% to 17,591. Of the remaining Anglo countries, 24% more, or 6,165, Australians arrived and 29% more, or 5,249 South Africans visited the country. Ben-Gurion clamps down Tourists fresh off the plane at Ben-Gurion Airport are being warned with public service announcements not to use unofficial taxi services out of the facility. Taxi drivers have to register with the Israel Airports Authority before providing services from the airport, and the IAA's clamping down on enforcement of the law following a complaint from a returning traveler. "Two months ago the traveler caught a taxi, where the driver threatened her during the journey, forced her to pay for gas and threw her out when she refused to pay more than the agreed price," the IAA said. Sabina Biran takes off Israir Chief Executive Officer Sabina Biran has resigned from her position after six years at the company's helm and a few months after realizing, perhaps her most significant achievement, in taking the charter airline to scheduled status on flights to New York. She will be replaced by former Ben-Gurion Airport managing director Israel Ben Haim. While Biran did not give a reason for resigning from the key position at Nochi Dankner's aviation concern, she was simultaneously appointed to the board of directors of supermarket chain Super-Sol and another unnamed Danker company. Dankner said Biran would be given a managerial position within the IDB Group in the near future.