Burnt Forest Doesn't Even Get Gawkers

Only a few hundred people visited the forest weekend, where rangers from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority showed them the damage the fire had caused.

Irit Rosenblum
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Irit Rosenblum

The Carmel region wasn't able to benefit, as anticipated, from gawking tourists this weekend because of the bad weather prevailing around the country.

People visiting the burnt Carmel forest over the weekend.Credit: Hagai Fried

Only a few hundred people visited the forest weekend, where rangers from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority showed them the damage the fire had caused.

The INPA set up information booths at the entrances to the park - at the zoo and at Nahal Oren - both to answer questions from visitors and to warn them not to wander through the burnt forest since damaged trees could topple over from the heavy winds.

INPA spokesman Omri Gal said the authority had expected thousands of visitors to visit the forest over the weekend to see the damage up close, even though all the hiking trails were closed. The bad weather kept them home, he said.

Rangers still caught several SUVs at parking lots that were closed to the public.

Hof Hacarmel local authority head Carmel Sela said visitors avoided the national park yesterday because the Agriculture Ministry had ordered them to stay out. Tourist attractions like the Beit Oren horse farm were empty as well.

One of the few attractions that drew a crowd yesterday was a gallery opening in Ein Hod, which had 200 visitors. The exhibition, "Celebs," included works by local celebrities including Shlomo Artzi and Yoram Kaniuk.

"All week long there was a ridiculous amount of 'disaster tourism,'" said Carmelim Tourism Association head Dafna Nof. "Tons of people came down the road to Beit Oren, stopped, and took pictures at the site of the bus disaster," she said.

Nof continued: "The road to Ein Hod and Nir Etzion was also full of curious visitors. People stood at the entrance to the Ein Hod museum trying to understand what had happened."

The tourism association is considering inviting tourists to return to the Carmel and organizing trips to plant cyclamens, she said.

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