Upswing in 1-day visits has tourism officials worried

By end of '08, 400,000 tourists will enter Israel and won't sleep in any hotels or guest houses.

dead sea tourist 88 224 (photo credit: )
dead sea tourist 88 224
(photo credit: )
The growth in the number of visitors arriving in Israel for less than 24 hours weakens the local tourism industry and enriches neighboring countries, Israel Hotel Association director-general Shmuel Tzurel said Wednesday. By the end of the year, 400,000 one-day tourists will enter the country and will not sleep in any of Israel's hotels and guest houses, he said, adding: "This anticipated growth of 200 percent, in comparison to 2007, should be a warning sign for the decision-makers. The one-day visitors add a burden on the tourist sites and infrastructure without giving anything back." While the standard tourist spends an average $1,550 during his visit to Israel, the one-day tourist spends only $150, Tzurel said. "This phenomenon enriches the neighboring Sinai Peninsula and Turkey [tour operators], who add a one-day tour to Israel to the tour packages they market and damage the Israeli tourism industry," he said. The increase in one-day tourists entering Israel reflects a great failure in exhausting the potential of local tourism, Tzurel said. "This loss is of 10,000 potential vacancies," he said. "The decision-makers must address the problem immediately and work to increase the marketing efforts of Israel as a tourist destination abroad." The Israel Hotel Association also published figures showing that during the first six months of 2008 there was a 32% increase in the number of tourists' overnight stays in guest and hotel rooms, compared to the first half of 2007; a decrease of 7% was reported in Israelis' overnight hotel stays. For the first half of 2008, 10 million overnight stays were reported, up 10% compared to the first half of 2007. Most overnight stays were in Jerusalem hotels, with 1.8 million, a 37% increase, and in Tel Aviv, with one million overnights stays, up 19%. A general increase of 13% in hotel-room occupancy was reported during the first six months of 2008.