As could be expected in time of war, some foreign tourists cancelled their trips to Israel – but the damage is expected to be short-term, said travel industry officials. At a meeting between Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov and industry officials over the weekend, representatives of tourism agencies reported cancellation rates of between 10-20% on average and a slow-down on future reservations. The damage was felt not only in the south, but in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as well.
Industry officials discussed with Misezhnikov ways to restore tourism. The Tour Guides Association recommended sending tour guide representatives, with the assistance of the Incoming Tour Operators’ Association, to meet with groups overseas who are planning to visit Israel within the next few months in order to explain the situation and reassure them that Israel is a safe place to visit. On the bright side, said the Minister, no airline canceled scheduled incoming flights and only a few charter flights were canceled.
In order to bring the tourists back for the more lucrative spring and summer seasons, the Tourism Ministry will increase its marketing efforts among potential tourists, using advertising campaigns in the media, radio and TV, social media, and other methods, Misezhnikov said. He added that a major tourism campaign is scheduled to launch very soon in Russia, as is a campaign targeted to the Evangelical market in the USA.
Efforts will also be put into encouraging domestic tourism, encouraging hotels and inns in the south to offer special deals for Israelis in order to encourage tourism. The Ministry will also work with the Foreign Ministry to persuade foreign governments to withdraw travel warnings, now that the cease-fire has been implemented, the Minister said, adding that he was optimistic that things would return to normal very soon.