Regional Unrest Keeping Tourists Away, Officials Say

Irit Rosenblum
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Irit Rosenblum

The uprisings in Arab states in the past four months is behind the decline in incoming tourism, Tourism Ministry director general Noaz Bar-Nir told TheMarker on Friday. Bar-Nir said that while in March foreign tourism dropped by just 3%, mainly due to cancellations of tours combining visits to Egypt and Jordan, the continuing restiveness across the Middle East is casting a pall on the local industry.

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, addressing a forum of business leaders and professionals on Friday, stressed the threat posed to tourism in Israel and in the Palestinian Authority by the reconciliation announced last week between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

Misezhnikov said his office greatly values cooperation with the PA and is working to boost it. "The PA benefits from this cooperation, and recorded a 60% rise in incoming tourism," Misezhnikov said.

It was not so long ago - last October, to be exact - when Israel's hospitality sector was buckling due to overbooking, with foreign visitors unable to find a free room in Jerusalem or in Tel Aviv being sent as far away as Be'er Sheva for the night. Sources in the industry agree that there's no chance of that happening in the foreseeable future.

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