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War Ended 39 Months of Israeli Tourism Growth

By Dalia Tal, Globes, Tel Aviv, IsraelMcClatchy-Tribune Business News

Aug. 23--The war in Lebanon ended 39 continuous months of growth, which began in April 2003, in Israel's tourism industry, the Israel Hotels Association reports. Hotel Association director general Tova Pinto said all the signs pointed to the start of another crisis in the industry.

According to the Hotel Association, tourist overnights at hotels rose until the outbreak of the war on July 12, but subsequently plummeted 20 percent, compared with July 2005. Tourist overnights in Nahariya hotels fell 72 percent compared with July 2005; they fell 45 percent in Haifa, 38 percent in Netanya; 35 percent in Herzliya, 225 in Tel Aviv, 14 percent in Eilat, and 8 percent in western Jerusalem.

Hotel overnights by Israelis rose by only 1 percent in July compared with July last year. The increase was because of residents of the north who stayed in hotels during the war. This was offset by cancellations by families in which a member was called up for reserve duty in the IDF. The Hotels Association emphasized that a high room occupancy rate did not necessarily mean profitability, because most hotels gave discounts to residents of the north.

Room occupancy rate averaged 63 percent in July, 8 percent less than in July last year. Average room occupancy rate was 85 percent in Eilat, 3 percent higher than last year; it was 77 percent in Herzliya, down 7 percent, and was 74 percent in Tel Aviv.

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Copyright (c) 2006, Globes, Tel Aviv, Israel

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