North Heats Up, but Region Still a Tourism Hotspot

The flare-up on the Lebanese border yesterday had no effect on tourism in the north, industry sources said. No one canceled their overnight stays in the region and tourist attractions were busy all day, as usual, Anat Nissim, the CEO of the Eretz Hagalil tourism association, told Haaretz yesterday.

"People at the attractions did not feel the security incident and they hardly heard about it, since they are busy with their activities, like kayaking, which are far away from the incident," she said. "All in all it was business as usual. Lots of visitors enjoying the water. If nothing else happens we hope things will continue. We have to remember this was an isolated incident."

The exchange of fire on the northern border between the Israel Defense Forces and the Lebanese army caught the region at the height of tourist season. Nissim said occupancy at the region's hotels and bed-and-breakfasts was at 80 percent to 90 percent capacity, with kayaking and other water activities the most popular attractions.

Haim Sides, business manager at Kibbutz Gonen in the Hula Valley also said vacationers had not canceled their reservations.

Moshe Zarchi, of the Moshav Movement tourism and business development association, also said the incident had no impact on the flow of tourists to the region. "I just made the rounds of communities on the front lines like Goren, Margaliyot, Ramot Naftali and Metula - everyone told me there was nothing unusual going on and there had been no cancellations. I myself live in Moshav Amirim [in the Upper Galilee mountains] and we felt no change.

"On the contrary, I'm getting calls from people who want to spend their vacation here. There are a lot of Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox families in the Galilee right now," he said.