Fire-ravaged Carmel Calls for People to Turn It Back Into Tourism Hotspot

Irit Rosenblum
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Irit Rosenblum

Nearly every hotel room or bed and breakfast in the Carmel area is standing empty, says Dafna Nof, manager of the Carmelim Tourism Association. "The immediate damage is canceled bookings," she said yesterday after the inferno on the Carmel was finally vanquished the day before, after some 80 hours.

The forest area was rich in semi-extreme tourism, from jeeping to rappeling, from all-terrain vehicles to bicycling.

The wooded mountain had also been a popular venue for hikers. But nobody's going to come tour a view of blasted tree stumps and soot, Nof points out.

Holiday plans up in smoke

Residents of Ein Hod thanking the foreign air crews who helped douse the blaze on the mountain.Credit: David Bachar

The tourism attractions in the region worst hit by the blaze is the artists village of Ein Hod, home to galleries and museum, says the association. The artists had been preparing for a brisk Hanukkah season before the blaze hit.

Second is kibbutz Beit Oren, which also features a hotel and spa. Beit Oren also had two popular venues for events, Bikta B'Yaar and Pine Club. Neither suffered direct fire damage but both saw their bookings evaporate.

It could take months before people start booking events there, predicts Roy Belitzky, manager of the wedding planning website Mithatnim.

The tourism website weekend.co.il has estimated lost income to the tourism businesses in the area at more than NIS 3 million.

Adi Maor, head of the Hotels Association in Haifa, notes that the hotels in the city were largely untouched by the disaster to the south on the mountain. The wind went the other way and the smell of the fire never reached Haifa proper, he says.

The fire on the Carmel brought a flood of volunteers, not only to help put out the blaze but also to host people evacuated from their homes, or who lost their homes.

Yogev Sarid, of the Moshavim Movement's tourism division, called on Israelis to continue showing their solidarity by vacationing in the Carmel area.

"There are hundreds of guest rooms, bed and breakfasts and hotels, and dozens of attractions, some of which were damaged but some of which were not. This is the time to shore them up," Sarid says. "Almost all the bed and breakfasts are back in business."

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