Israel official, tour operators report few cancellations

While Israels bombing of Lebanon destroyed Lebanons tourism industry, tourism in Israel is showing little impact. According to Ruth Mekel, a spokeswoman for Israel Tourism, the cancellations are so few as to be statistically nonexistent.

Some persons are postponing and some are changing their itineraries, Mekel said. Many are waiting to see what happens before deciding whether to change their plans. But there are few cancellations for now, she said. 

Tourism in the north, which is in range of Hezbollahs rockets, is curtailed, Mekel said. Tour operators are re-routing their customers from Haifa, the Golan Heights and other northern areas, but there are still many tourists visiting Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee area, the Dead Sea, the Red Sea and Eilat.

It sounds crazy and unbelievable, said Ronen Paldi, president of Yalla Tours, but we have had very few cancellations.

One of the reasons there are few cancellations, Paldi said, is that the profile of the passenger to Israel has changed. They are either Jews or Christians who to travel for family or spiritual reasons. For the last 24 months, people are traveling to Israel to make a stand, to send a message that they support Israel.

Bob Drumm, president of General Tours, said customers planning to travel to Israel are not canceling and those who are there are not opting to return home.

They are very hardy, he said.

Isram World of Travel also reported few cancellations but expressed concern for how much longer that will remain the case.

I dont know how much longer anyone can sustain this, said Eilene Lowe Hart, Israms vice president of marketing. "The poor in Lebanon and the poor in Israel -- this is very hard on them. We are praying theres an end to this.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to David Cogswell at [email protected].

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