Sukkot Draws 150,000 Visitors to JNF Sites

Most visits were to sites in the north, including Lake Hula, the Biriya forest and the forests of Mount Carmel.

Some 150,000 people visited Jewish National Fund sites yesterday to mark the Sukkot holiday, a similar figure to last year.

Over 100,000 of them visited sites in Israel's north, including Lake Hula, the Biriya forest and the forests of Mount Carmel.

Many of the visitors to the north, however, did not spend the night there.

Meir Levy, chair of the Upper Galilee Tourism Forum and director of the Gonen tourist village, said occupancy at hotels and bed and breakfasts in the Galilee stands at 50 percent on average. The forum said occupancy is rarely high during Sukkot.

However, Anat Nissim, director of the Upper Galilee Tourism Association, said, "It's true that occupancy numbers are not high, but August and Rosh Hashanah were excellent for tourism here.

Still, the Galilee has its own magic, and I expect people to come visit us in the coming days."

Some tourist destinations did see high occupancy rates. The Pastoral Hotel in the Galilee panhandle community of Kfar Blum reported 85 percent occupancy during the Sukkot holiday.

Hotel director Dovy Ben-Ari said he expects additional reservations today, as religiously observant visitors seem to still be booking in high numbers.

Gideon Hod, director of tourism at the Ein Gev marina, said occupancy at the kibbutz's tourist village stands at 75 percent on average during this holiday season, but availabilities still remain.

Hod said the situation is similar at other tourist sites on the eastern shore of Lake Kinneret. He also said that he expects more reservations to come in over the holiday due to the pleasant weather on the Kinneret, which allows for end-of-summer swimming and sunbathing.

At the "cowboy farm" in Merom Golan, occupancy stood at 85 percent. Liki Azaria, director of tourism marketing there, said reservations are still coming in, and that she hopes her kibbutz hotel reaches full occupancy.