The statistics show that in October 2015, there were about 950,000 tourist stays in Israeli hotels. That’s a 16 percent increase compared to October 2014, but since the tourism industry took a blow in 2014 due to that summer’s Operation Protective Edge, it’s not a particularly relevant comparison. When compared to October 2013, this year’s October shows a 21 percent decline in tourist stays.
Figures supplied by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) regarding tourist entries into Israel show a milder decline of just 14.5 percent, compared to October 2013. This means that tourists were arriving, but many were staying in places other than hotels. Among these are short-term leased apartments, staying with friends and family, and even staying in vacant apartments owned by people overseas (mostly French and British people).
Interestingly, the figures further show that Jerusalem, which was at the center of a terrorism wave during October, experienced one of the mildest rates of decline in tourists’ hotel stays – just 16 percent. In comparison, other popular destinations like the Dead Sea, Tiberias, and Eilat experienced dramatic declines of between 26 and 45 percent.
When looking at statistics for the period of January-October 2015, there seems to be a decline of just 2.9 percent in tourist entries compared to the same period in 2013, but the amount of tourist stays in hotels for that period has declined by 13 percent – a massive difference between entries and hotel stays.
IHA Director General Noaz Bar Nir said in response: “Comparing the tourist stays to last year’s teaches us nothing, since we were in the aftermath of Protective Edge then and were contending with a sharp crash in tourist entries. However, the comparison to 2013 shows that the situation still hasn’t returned to its state in the time before Protective Edge.
"The main tool for bringing tourists to Israel over time is marketing, marketing , and once again – marketing. With long-term planning and a worthy marketing budget, which were approved in the past few months by the Tourism Ministry – it’s possible to raise and change the trend, certainly in light of the fact that the entire world is experiencing terrorism these days, and we’re no longer outliers in that sense.”