NEW YORK -- Operators to Israel began setting policies to cover
trip cancellations stemming from the U.S. military buildup in the
Persian Gulf, following Iraq's suspension of U.N. weapons
The U.S. State Department on Nov. 11 issued a warning regarding
travel to Israel and Kuwait, both of which suffered Iraqi
aggression during the Persian Gulf war in 1991. It authorized
nonessential personnel to leave the two countries if they wished
and added that "private American citizens may want to consider
departing [either] country."
"Iraq's continued defiance of the will of the international
community [is] heightening the level of risk to American citizens
in the Middle East," the warning said.
Meir Weingarten, manager of Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Ariel Tours,
which specializes in FITs to the Holy Land, said his firm "prefers
to apply [funds already paid] to future trips."
Isram World of Travel in New York received calls from travelers
about to depart for Israel as soon as news about gas mask
distribution there became public here. According to the firm's vice
president of marketing Eileen Lowe Hart, Isram is telling clients
"to hold onto their reservations."
If any trip arrangements have to be canceled because of military
action in the area, "any deposits they might have paid will be held
for a year from the date they were due to depart and can be applied
to future travel to Israel or any of Isram's other destinations,"
Stuart Katz, president of Tal Tours in Valley Stream, N.Y.,
reported "no new bookings and no cancelations," and said it was too
early to know what the impact might be for the upcoming holiday
A spokeswoman for El Al, Israel's national airline, said there
had been no cancellations by some 3,000 leaders of Jewish
federation groups around the U.S. who were flying to Israel for
their Nov. 16 international gathering there.
The Israel Ministry of Tourism could not be reached for
Israel is not in the Persian Gulf region, does not border Iraq
and did not participate in the Persian Gulf War, but Iraq at that
time singled it out for punishment, using long-range scud