Main Tourist Draw Went Up in Flames

Irit Rosenblum
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Irit Rosenblum

One of the casualties of the massive fire in the Carmel forest is likely to be the region's NIS 100 million a year tourism industry. The area's main attraction, its rolling green hills and stately trees, will be left badly damaged once the fire is extinguished and won't recover anytime soon.

Carmel forests before the blazne, July 9, 2010.Credit: Haim Targan

In the Hof Hacarmel area, there are 400 hotel rooms and 300 bed-and-breakfasts run by about 100 families, said Carmelim Tourism Organization head Dafna Nof. There are also about 150 art galleries and 28 restaurants, along with nature-focused attractions such as horse farms. Tourism in the area is expected to drop to a minimum in the short term, which will cause significant financial damage for all these businesses, she said.

"It's hard to say what will happen in the long term, but what's special about Carmelim is the combination of the Carmel and the sea," she said. "There will be serious damage to the area's natural resources for a long time."

Isrotel CEO Lior Raviv was more optimistic about the future of the Carmel Forest Spa Resort, which managed to escape serious damage despite being engulfed in flames. "When the fire is put out, we'll be able to reopen within a week," he said yesterday.

Before the fire broke out, the hotel had been fully booked for the Hanukkah holiday, he said.

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