Busy holiday season seen for hotels, guesthouses and airports
Hotels in Israel over Rosh Hashanah and the weekend will reach an average of 80 percent occupancy, according to the Israel Hotel Association.
Hotels in Eilat and the Dead Sea are expected to be 90 percent to 95 percent full, and kibbutz guest houses 85 percent to 90 percent full. Tel Aviv hotels will be only 70 percent full and Jerusalem's hotels will see only 65 percent occupancy.
Bed and breakfasts on moshavim in the Upper Galilee have seen a slight downturn in demand, to 80 percent, compared to the last New Year's holiday, according to Moshe Zarchi, chairman of the tourism committee of the Moshav Movement.
Zarchi attributes the decline to an increase in trips abroad.
Approximately 1,185,000 people are expected to pass through Ben-Gurion International Airport over the fall holidays, beginning yesterday, on some 7,370 flights. The Israel Airports Authority says the number would represent a 13 percent rise in passenger traffic and about a 9 percent rise in numbers of aircraft compared with last year.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz is to visit Ben-Gurion Airport today to greet some of the expected 48,000 travelers passing through, among them some 9,000 Hassidim leaving for Uman in Ukraine on about 50 flights to visit the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav. Some 18,000 Israelis are expected to make the yearly pilgrimage to Uman before the holiday begins on Wednesday night, on about 100 flights.
According to various travel agencies, about 280,000 Israelis will be celebrating their fall holiday vacation abroad, an increase of approximately 13 percent over last year's numbers.
The most popular destinations are Greece, Rhodes and Kos and the classic European destinations - Prague, Paris, Barcelona and Rome. Although the travel warning for Turkey has been rescinded, low demand for vacation spots there persists.
The demand has risen this year for more distant destinations due to the small number of workdays in September. The most popular destinations range from the United States, Australia and New Zealand to China and Nepal.
On Yom Kippur eve, Friday September 17, air traffic will cease at 12:50 P.M. and Israeli air space will close at 1 P.M. International flights will begin landing again after the end of Yom Kippur at 9:30 P.M, and will take off beginning at 10:30 P.M.
According to Israel Airports Authority figures, August 2010 saw the heaviest traffic in Ben-Gurion's history, with 1.48 million travelers on international flights passing through the airport, an increase of 4.13 percent over last year.
Some 7.7 million people have passed through Ben-Gurion since the beginning of the year, an increase of 10.4 percent over the same period last year.
Those who decide to stay in Israel will not have to suffer through another heat wave over the holidays, though, according to Meteotech forecasting service. Temperatures are expected to decline beginning Wednesday, with the arrival of cooler weather from Greece and Turkey. Nighttime temperatures will reach 18 at night in the mountains and 24 on the coast, and during the day, 28 in the mountains and 30 on the coast. Humidity will stand at 55 percent, compared to 70 percent during the recent heat waves. Friday and Saturday will be slightly warmer.