Foreign tourists shun Israeli hotels
Number of travelers arriving in Israel grows by 110% in 25 years, while average length of tourist's hotel stay dips 50% as many choose to spend night in cheaper Bethlehem. Meanwhile, number of tourists visiting neighboring countries grows by thousands of percentage points
In addition, many tourists arrive in the country for a one-day visit without staying the night.
According to the figures, in the past 25 years the number of tourists arriving in Israel grew by 110%, from 1.38 million to 2.88 million, while their hotel stays increased by just 15%.
Moreover, the figures show that while in 1987 the average length of a tourist's stay in an Israeli hotel was 6.2 nights, in 2012 that number fell by nearly 50% to 3.3 nights.
Tourism to Turkey up 7,300%
The drop in the number of tourists' overnight stays in Israeli hotels stems partly from the fact that since 1987 there has been a 457% increase in the number of travelers arriving in Israel for a one-day visit, whether on cruises, through the border crossings with Egypt and Jordan or on flights from Turkey and Cyprus.
Sharp increase in tourism to Jordan. Aqaba (Photo: Meir Ohayon)
Jordan, by the way, has seen a 2,301% growth in tourism over the same period (some four million tourists in 2011), Egypt has seen a 2,300% growth (10 million tourists in 2011), and Turkey – a 7,300% growth (some 34 million tourists in 2011).
30,000 apartments owned by foreigners
The number of hotel rooms in Israel increased by 279% during that period, in Jordan by 666%, in Egypt by 2,000%, and in Turkey by 2,600%.
In addition, according to estimates of the Israeli Incoming Tour Operators Association, some 30,000 apartments in Israel are owned by foreign residents whose permanent residence is not in the Jewish state.
These foreign residents use their apartments on their vacations, let their family and friends stay there and even rent them out for short periods of time. This type of tourism, which does not contribute to Israel's hotels, is seen mainly in the cities of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Netanya.
In addition, there has been a sharp increase in the number of tourists from Eastern Europe who stay with family or friends rather than in hotels.
Many tourists, especially those who arrive for a day or two visit to Israel's holy sites, prefer to stay in Bethlehem, where room rates range between $45-50 per night – significantly lower than Jerusalem's hotel rates.