Dollar drops, along with number of US tourists


Sources in local tourism industry warn number of American tourists to Israel expected to decrease sharply due to financial crisis in US.

The financial crisis in the United States has already started influencing incoming tourism from the US to Israel. Recently-released polls revealed that more and more American tourists prefer to spend their holidays in cheaper destinations, like South America or the US, and cancel their trips to Europe.

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Data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics shows that tourism from the US to Israel rose in January-February 2008 by 23%, not a very positive figure when taking into account that overall tourism to the country increased by 51% during the same period.

Seeing that US tourists make up more than 25% of overall tourism to Israel, local industry members are naturally concerned. The Israel Tour Operators Association held a special discussion about the worrying figures on Wednesday.

‘Local industry will suffer’

“We are very concerned that the economic situation in the US would influence the consumption habits of the American public, especially when it comes to recreational activities. This might certainly harm tourism to Israel,” said the association’s chairman, Shmuel Marom.

According to Marom, it has been decided during Wednesday’s discussion to call on hotelkeepers to refrain from raising prices for tourists at this point. “The American tourist wishing to visit Israel gets hurt twice: First, because of the crisis in the US that decreases the value of his currency; and second because Israeli hoteliers, who are also affected by the plummeting dollar, are forced to raise their prices.”

Marom added that signs for a slowdown in tourism from the US can already be seen. “From June onward we predict a possible sharp decline in tourism from the US to Israel,” he said, stressing that this will no doubt cause the local industry to suffer.