WASHINGTON -- The
change in wording in the U.S. State Departments travel warning
about Israel was subtle, but one travel marketer said it has made a
difference for tourism.
Gabi Mor, the
U.S. director of marketing for Dan Hotels, a luxury chain based in
Israel, said bookings jumped significantly in the days following
April 7. Thats when the State Department updated its longstanding
travel warning for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
updates, the latest did not specifically warn against travel to
It was like day
and night, Mor said. The increase in bookings was about 30% or 40%
[compared with the same time last year], but it might be
The bulk of the
bookings have been for April through September, Mor
Travel to Israel
is going in the right direction, he said.
But other Israel
marketers said that if there is a turnaround taking place, it
probably has little to do with the rewording of the travel
I personally dont
believe the State Department warnings have anything to do with it,
said Ady Gelber, president of New York-based Isram World of Travel,
an Israel specialist.
in Israel goes back the last couple of months, back to when
[Palestinian Prime Minister] Abu Mazen and [Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel] Sharon started to get along, Gelber said. That news affects
it much more than the State Department. A nice picture of Sharon
and Abu Mazen shaking hands affects it much more.
The change in the
wording of the State Department warning is having no effect [on
bookings], added Ronen Paldi, president of Portland, Ore.-based
Yalla Tours, which specializes in tours to Israel.
has been on the rise since eight months ago. The people going knew
very well that the advisory had nothing to do with the reality on
the ground. Bookings are very strong. Our biggest problem is to
find the air space.
travel warning for Israel does indicate that the security situation
For instance, it
noted that Israeli forces are investigating between 40 and 60
planned terrorist attacks at anytime.
number of attacks within Israel have declined in both frequency and
associated casualties, according to the advisory, which also noted
that the anticipated evacuation of Israeli settlers from Gaza could
lead to violence in Israel by settler groups.
reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].
reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].