Israeli Unions to End Boycott of Turkish Vacations

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The Bosphorus waterway in Istanbul, Turkey.Credit: Reuters

Israeli unions are ending their four-year boycott of tourism to Turkey, which was sparked by an abrupt worsening of Israeli-Turkish relations.

The unions subsidize and promote a significant share of Israeli tourism within and outside the country. Over 250,000 Israeli workers and their families can be expected to vacation in Turkey this summer, according to a recent survey by Vaadim, a company that provides information on Israeli unions’ economic and social affairs.

The union’s new stance may also encourage other Israelis to return to Turkey, where resort areas like Antalya, Bodrum and Marmaris are popular destinations. Airlines operating out of Israeli certainly hope so. In 2008, over 500,000 Israelis vacationed in Turkey.

“The return of the unions to Turkey will dictate more competitive vacation prices to Israeli hoteliers, even during peak seasons,” said Yaakov Alush, the CEO of Vaadim.

But Eyal Kashdan, the CEO of the Flying Carpet travel agency, predicts that Turkey will not compete with Israeli resort towns like Eilat so much as with destinations like the Greek islands. Even so, reservations for vacations in Turkey during the Passover holiday in mid-April are up 100 percent compared to last year, Kashdan says. He predicts Turkey will be the most popular vacation destination this summer and that numbers will return to 2008 levels next year.

These predictions, of course, assume that the political situation between Israel and Turkey will remain stable.

Even if this is the case, says Ronen Carasso, the vice president of marketing at Issta travel agency, Israelis should not expect to find package deals for 2008 prices of between $299 to $399. Compared to Greece, Turkey will likely offer cheaper all-inclusive deals, which will draw many tourists, he says, while fancier hotels will be similarly priced in both countries.

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