The occupancy rate in Jerusalem hotels has plummeted by nearly 50 percent in the wake of recent Arab terror.
“Thirty percent of our clients, Israelis and foreigners already in Israel, called following the running over of bystanders by a terrorist driving a car and asked to move their tour route from central Jerusalem to the Biblical Zoo, which is fenced in and secured at the entrance, or to Tel Aviv,” Yossi Griver, co-owner of Zuzu Motoric Tourism, told the Globes business newspaper.
A veteran tour guide told The Jewish Press Sunday, “Tourists are cancelling trips they scheduled with me. They don’t even come from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”
The war in Gaza last summer was a financially deadly strike at tourism, which had been at record highs before Hamas started pummeling Israel with missiles as far north as metropolitan Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
“The escalating security situation in the city has dealt another blow to tourism, already hit hard by Operation Protective Edge,” said Alfred Akirov, owner of Alrov, which operates David Citadel and Mamilla Hotels in Jerusalem.
Occupancy rates at Jerusalem hotels now are 35-40 percent, compared with the usual seasonal rate of 65-70 percent.
The city of Jerusalem and businesses are trying to attract business with free tours and discounts, but it is difficult to overcome a mood of fear, exactly what terrorists want to drive in the hearts of Jews.
Jerusalem tour guide Ron Peled told Globes, “There is a dramatic plunge of 80-90 percent in the number of Israeli tourists visiting Jerusalem. Would you take your kids on a trip to Jerusalem now? If you were invited to a bar mitzvah at the Western Wall, would you go? It’s not a sure thing.
“A large number of the tour guides in the city have no work because of the situation that has prevailed since Operation Protective Edge. There is a more moderate decline. You can still see tourists in the city.”
Guy Klaiman, general manager of the recently opened Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem Hotel, is more optimistic, if for no other reason than radical Islamists have attacked throughout the world.
“Tourists regard these things differently these days,” he told Globes. “They understand that there is no safe place in the world, and that part of life today is taking some risks. It’s not safe in London, either. When I worked there, we had to deal with terrorist explosions. Being a Jew in Antwerp is not exactly safe now, either.”