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Israel focuses on internal tourism after number of foreign tourists entering country falls 21%

By Mason White 4:42 PM August 12, 2014
Ben Gurion Airport 

By: Aryeh Savir
The number of foreign tourists entering Israel, fell sharply due to the conflict with Gaza, the Tazpit News Agency reported.

Operation Protective Edge has generated various financial challenges for Israel’s economy, as activity slowed down during the operation and the costs of the military campaign will weigh heavily on Israel’s upcoming annual budget.

One of Israel’s most known financial segments, tourism, has taken a big hit as a result of the operation. According to data presented by the Tourism Ministry, tourist entries were down by 21% during July, the height of the season in Israel.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, 218,000 visitor entries were recorded in July 2014. This number is lower than all the July statistics from 2008 to 2013.

Nearly all European countries have issued travel warnings, advising their citizens to stay at least 40 kilometers away from Gaza, the range most vulnerable to Hamas rocket attacks, as well as from the Judea and Samaria and the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

The United States also issued several travel warnings urging U.S. citizens to be cautious and avoid “areas of unrest.”

The Ministry points out that thanks to the momentum in tourism since the beginning of 2014 up to Operation Protective Edge, a positive trend remains on a year over year basis. From January to July 2014, 1.9 million tourists entered Israel, 13% more than the same period in 2013, 12% more than 2012, and 15% more than 2011.

Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau stated: “Israel is preparing for the day after. The Tourism Ministry is planning to invest in marketing campaigns in target countries around the world in order to encourage incoming tourism.”

The Ministry has already launched a broadly publicized campaign in Israel to encourage internal tourism.