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In recent weeks there have been reports that Eilat is filled with visitors, many of them from the north, and that prices are high. But three weeks after the start of the war, the Eilat Hotels Association (EHA) has estimated that the summer occupancy rate for the city will reach no more than 70 or 75 percent, which is considered very low. As a result, the city's hotels have begun to cut their prices and offer special discounts.

By way of comparison, last summer the August occupancy rate in Eilat was 83 percent, and this year tourism officials expected that figure to climb to 87 percent, close to the maximum. Eilat's hotel occupancy over the summer is usually 95 percent domestic and 5 percent foreign.

"The potential market of northern residents no longer exists," EHA director Shabtai Shai says. "The ones who came 26 days ago have already left. In addition, Israelis from the center of the country are canceling their vacations or waiting before reserving rooms. I believe that if the war goes on for a few more days, then summer vacations will be a lost cause and people will wait until the High Holidays in September to travel."

(Z.B., S.A.)