A day after Eilat celebrated the launch of El Al’s new flight route to the resort town, locals were optimistic that these flights would increase tourism to the southern city.
On Monday morning, this hope was replaced by anxiety: According to reports, four rockets exploded in Eilat, one in open areas in the city and three in the red Sea, most probably on Jordanian territory. No injuries or damage were reported. One rocket landed near a hotel in the Jordanian city of Aqaba, killing one person.
“This definitely happened at a bad time, at the peak of the tourist season,” Shabi Shay, general manager of the Eilat Hotel Association, told Calcalist. “However, I do not believe that Israelis will be driven to cancel their holidays.
“It could have implications on reservations for the winter. I believe there will be some consequences; this cannot go by unnoticed altogether. In the past, when a Katyusha rocket was found in the town, or after the terrorist attack in the bakery, tourism organizers abroad began asking questions.”
He added that the geographic location of Eilat, distant from the center of Israel, and the security unrest that several cities – including Ashkelon and Kiryat Shmona – have suffered, has been one of the advantages of the southern town used to sell packages to tourists from abroad.
“We sell Eilat as a quiet place,” said Shay. “The Jordanians and Egyptians also realize that it would be bad if this area were to be troubled, as it would affect Taba and Aqaba. The question is whether or not this will be a single event, and if it is, it will be much easier to deal with it.”