Travel Trends: Hirchson rejects 'open skies' appeal

Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson will keep the law governing Israel's aviation policy within the framework of the budget legislation.

hans kennedie 88 298 (photo credit: Courtesy Photo)
hans kennedie 88 298
(photo credit: Courtesy Photo)
Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson will keep the law governing Israel's aviation policy within the framework of the budget legislation, the Finance Ministry told The Jerusalem Post after the Knesset Finance Committee called for its separation in order to ensure its passing. The committee asked Hirchson to split the section dealing with "aviation services licensing" from the Arrangements Bill and present it to the Knesset for approval this week. The idea was supported by members of the coalition and opposition members who said that if the law was part of the overall budget they would have to vote against it, whereas if it were a separate vote they could support it. Adoption of a more liberal aviation policy, by lifting capacity limitations on some European airlines, would boost economic activity by encouraging tourism, the committee said in a Knesset statement. Hirchson, who in his previous position as Tourism Minister was very vocal in "opening the skies" to foreign airlines, did not give a reason for not approving the request. Forget the flights, focus on the hotels... At the same time, in a somewhat surprising move, Continental Airlines' Israel manager Avi Friedman, who is also Chairman of the Foreign Airlines Association in Israel, hinted during an "open skies" discussion in Tel Aviv this week that there was some merit to government protection of the local airlines. Friedman urged the industry to direct its attention away from the aviation and "open skies" issues saying that tourism numbers rather were being limited by the insufficient tourism infrastructure that exists here. "Our goal is to grow tourism to 5-6 million people by 2011, and we currently have only 47,000 rooms," Friedman said. "That means we will need to add some 12,000 rooms in five years." He stressed the need to invest in infrastructure, to build new hotels, renovate existing ones and reopen those that have closed. Golden Tulip answers the call Dutch hotel chain Golden Tulip Hospitality Group has expanded its brand in Israel, franchising five new hotels in Israel, to be managed by the Fattal Hotel Management Group. The deal involves re-branding three hotels under the Golden Tulip logo and two hotels as the first Tulip Inns in the country, a new three- star level hotel concept, a Fattal spokesperson said. The Tulip Inn Amnon Bay on the Kinneret is due to open in July with 91 rooms, while the 96 room Tulip Inn Dead Sea will follow in August, after both hotels' predecessors had been closed due to the drop in tourism in previous years. Both hotels are owned by Yitzchak Tshuva who, together with Fattal, invested NIS 5 million for their renovations and upgrades. The three Golden Tulips will bring to five the number of hotels under that brand franchised by the company. The largest of them, with 400 rooms and owned by The Malibu Group, is located on the Kinneret, while the Golden Tulip Negev, owned by Tshuva, has 270 rooms catering to the business community traveling to Beersheba. The final hotel in the portfolio, which is owned by the Dead Sea Group, brings the Golden Tulip to Ashkelon. The three hotels are already operating under the new brand, having undergone renovations of NIS 10m. to NIS 15m.