The open skies policy and the low dollar have contributed to Israelis taking advantage of the relative low costs of international travel, with a marked increase from last year's travel data, according to information from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).
The first half of 2016 saw a 15.6% increase in the number of Israelis flying abroad when compared to the same timeframe in 2015. This translates to 2.55 million Israelis having travelled abroad between January and June of this year.
Data from the CBS show 566,000 Israeli exits from the country in June, which is an increase of 15.3% from June 2015.
While Israelis are travelling abroad in droves, tourism to Israel itself is not doing terribly well. In the first half of 2016, 1.38 million tourism entries by to Israel were recorded, which was a decrease of 1.3% from the preceding year's first half. Going back one more year (before Operation Protective Edge), the data show a more significant decrease from 2014 to 2016: 18%.
Those Israelis who travelled abroad visited Eastern Europe (18%); sunbathing holidays in Rhodes, Crete, and Antalya (15%), Italy (12%); North America (11%), the Iberian Peninsula (11%), and the UK (6%).
Despite the large amount of Israelis departing the country for vacations and the desire to purchase inexpensive tickets, Israelis are not rushing to order their summer vacations. According to Gulliver travel agency survey, conducted by C.I Marketing Research), some 60% of respondents intend to travel abroad during the summer, but only 18% had purchased their vacations by the end of June.
Ziv Rosen, the CEO of Gulliver, said that most Israelis will travel to Greece and to other destinations around the Mediterranean basin for sunbathing vacations: "You can see that Israelis want to travel to a nearby and cheap destination, and so we see the growing appeal of Eastern Europe: Romania, Russia, Hungary, and Poland."
Asked in the poll how much they expected to spend, 24% replied up to $1,300, 42% replied up to $2,600, and 22% replied up to $4,800. More than 74% of respondents said that they wouldn't need to take out a loan to finance their vacations.
The distribution of those waiting to order their vacations shows that younger persons (18–29) are those who are not likely to buy their trips ahead of time, while those aged 30–47 are much more likely to order their tickets as soon as they have decided whither they are travelling.