Israel's Tourism Industry in Trouble

International tourist visits to Israel dropped 25% in first six months of 2015, as compared to same period in 2014.

Cynthia Blank ,

Foreign tourists take in Jerusalem's Old City
Foreign tourists take in Jerusalem's Old City
Flash 90

Israel saw a significant and worrying decline in tourism during the first six months of 2015, Channel 10 reported on Wednesday. 

According to figures, foreign tourists had 4.1 million overnight stays in Israel from January to July 2015, a decrease of 25% compared to the first half of 2014. 

The decline was felt most prominently in Eilat, with a drop of 46%. Other affected tourist spots include the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, and the Galilee, with drops of 34%, 27% and 29%, respectively. 

Haifa and Tel Aviv were least affected by the decline in tourism, but still saw drops of 17% and 14% as compared to last year. 

Even hotels in Herzliya, which saw a 4% upswing in tourist visits from abroad, only booked 96,000 overnight stays in 2015 - a mere 2.5 percent of rooms available. 

Israelis are, however, traveling more within the country, adding up to some 5.9 million overnight stays in the first six months of 2015 - an eight percent increase from last year. 

Israel's two largest cities - Jerusalem and Tel Aviv - benefited the most from this surge in within-Israel travel. 

In response to a query from Arutz Sheva, Israel's Tourism Ministry asserted that the drop in tourism was the direct result of a lack of investment by successive governments.

"The tourism sector can no longer be abandoned and relegated to the bottom of Israel's national and economic priorities," the ministry said. 

"The State of Israel is not investing money [in tourism]. Only by investing in the tourism market, will we be able to change these figures quickly. Now is the time to receive a sharp and clear decision to promote tourism."