By AVI KRAWITZ
The country's hotels had 19% more guests in first quarter of 2006, the Israel Hotels Association and the Central Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday, bringing the occupancy rate to 54% for the period. Last year, the occupancy stood at 46% and it was the first time since 2000 that the hotels were more than 50% full in the January to March period.
Some four million lodgings were recorded in the first three months of the year, of which 45% were by foreign tourists, whose bookings jumped 40% to 1.8 million from the 2005 first-quarter level. Israeli hotel stays grew 6% to 2.2 million.
Jerusalem hotels saw the lion's share of tourist bookings at 637,000 nights, up 52% from last year, while Tel Aviv grew 26% to 352,000 overnight stays. Eilat hotels proved to be the popular destination for Israelis, notching up 856,000 overnight lodgings, followed by the Dead Sea with 385,000. Hotels at the Dead Sea had the highest occupancy rate in the country at 67%.
Making room for more
Alrov Properties and Lodgings, which manages the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, said it plans to manage 1,500 hotel rooms within the next four years.
The company has decided to set up a hotel management chain, to manage its portfolio, which will include a new hotel in the Mamilla area close to the David Citadel, due for completion in 2008, and a new 5-star hotel in Tel Aviv, for which it is looking for a suitable site.
Airlines cut prices
Hot on the heels of a successful Pessah season for the airline industry, El Al Israel Airlines and British Airways have presented special deals for travel around Yom Haatzmaut next week.
El Al launched its "58" campaign for round-trip flights (including taxes) to Europe and the Far East leaving Israel between April 28 and May 4. The company is offering flights to Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and Hungary for $258 round-trip, while traveling to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Zurich, Madrid, Vienna, and Munich will cost $358. It is also offering flights to the Far East - Bangkok, Hong Kong and Beijing - for $758.
British Airways is offering packages including a round-trip flight from Tel Aviv to London and three nights, bed and breakfast, in one of five London hotels for prices ranging from $771 and $957. The hotels on offer are the Prince William ($771), the Thistle Bloomsburry ($833), the Ramada Regents Park ($859), the Thistle Marbel Arch ($884) and the Royal Lancaster ($957). The deal is available between April 24 and May 7.
British Airways also reset its prices for business class "Club World" passengers flying any flight on the Tel Aviv - London route 37% lower than last year at $1,236 round-trip, for the rest of the year. BA has also cut its World Traveler Plus ticket by 22% to $936 round-trip until the end of June.
Dreamliner heads for the South Pacific
The Boeing Company said total orders for the 787 Dreamliner family have reached 350 from 26 customers, after Fijian airliner Air Pacific agreed to purchase five 787-9 aircraft. No price has yet been published for the 787-9, which will have between 250 and 290 seats as the largest member in the Dreamliner family.
The first aircraft from the order is expected to be delivered in 2011.
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