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Israeli travelers flocked to Eilat in July, shunned Jerusalem

CM 25/08/2021

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Israelis visited hotels in droves in July, enjoying the opportunity to travel locally despite COVID restrictions. That helped the hotels offset some of the loss from the nearly complete stoppage of foreign visitors, according to data from the Israel Hotels Association.
The situation in hotels looked far different than it did in July 2019, in the summer before the pandemic began. Because tourism from abroad was extremely limited due to coronavirus restrictions, only 6% of visits were made by foreigners, compared to 94% by Israelis. Put differently, the number of stays by foreign tourists was down 85% from 2019, while visits by Israelis rose 19%.  
The inconveniences of overseas travel due to coronavirus testing and quarantine requirements spurred many Israelis to forgo their vacations abroad in favor of domestic respites.

In total, some 2.1 million overnight stays were recorded in hotels during July, 17% less than were recorded in July 2019.
Most of the hotel-goers just wanted to get away to Israel’s traditional vacation destinations. Nearly 800,000 people visited Eilat, 38% of all travelers. Tiberias and Tel Aviv ranked number second and third, with 240,000 and 225,000 visits, respectively.
Jerusalem to light up iconic sites as first major tourism project of 2021 (credit: JERUSALEM MUNICIPALITY)Jerusalem to light up iconic sites as first major tourism project of 2021 (credit: JERUSALEM MUNICIPALITY)
Eilat and the Dead Sea had the highest levels of hotel occupancy, at 87% and 71%, respectively. Jerusalem, usually one of the country’s most popular destinations for travelers, had just a 36% occupancy rate during July, as the total number of hotel visitors dropped from 54% in 2019 to 186,000.
The comparison between Jerusalem and Eilat is starker when considering that both cities have about 11,000 hotel rooms each, by far the most in Israel. Tel Aviv has about 8,800 hotel rooms, and Tiberias and the surrounding towns around the Sea of Galilee have about 5,600. The Dead Sea has about 4,000 hotel rooms available.
The total number of visitors to Eilat, Tiberias and Dead Sea Hotels were nearly even with July 2019 levels, while hotel stays were down 54% in Jerusalem and 37% in Tel Aviv.
The trend away from the big cities should not be surprising. A survey of Israelis’ travel habits published Tuesday by Agoda.com found that 14% more people said they value relaxing beach vacations than before the pandemic.
“Despite the encouraging summer data, especially in areas that have always been domestic tourism-oriented, many difficulties are expected for hotels in foreign-tourist-oriented cities,” the Israel Hotels Association said. “The period after the summer and after the holidays will require about 270 hotels to examine the nature and character of their activities, assuming that the severe restrictions on the entry of tourists will continue.”
Looking at the numbers for the first seven months of 2021, about 7.3 million hotel visits were recorded thus far this year. That’s a 50% decline from 2019, but a 21% improvement from 2020. Total occupancy across all hotels from January through July was just 31.3%, compared to 68.9% in 2019 and 28.5% in 2020.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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