Israel - Record Tourism Pressuring Hotel Accommodation Availability
February 25, 2019
The word is out and Israel continues to draw record numbers of tourists from around the globe. The small country the size of New Jersey saw its tourist count increase from 3.6 million in 2017 to 4.1 million in 2018 - an increase of 14 percent! Everything points to this trend continuing into 2019. According to Israel Travel News Ltd and the Israel Hotels Association, “In 2018, approximately 11.6 million tourist hotel stays were recorded, an increase of 9% compared to 2017 and an increase of 35% compared to 2016.”
Our company, Pilgrimage Tours Worldwide, can attest to this growth. Each year, over the past three years it has been getting progressively more difficult to make hotel accommodations for private and group tours. Hotel rooms, an integral part of any group tour, are in high demand. High demand creates increased costs and more complex reservation arrangements. We are encouraging our tour leaders to start planning their tours at least 12 and preferably 24 months before departure to insure they get the hotel quality and number of rooms they are looking for.
With even larger numbers of tourists expected in 2019, how is Israel going to keep up with the demand for hotel rooms?
Where there is a need, creative and innovative answers often follow. Currently, several office buildings in the Tel Aviv-Jaffa area being converted into hotel rooms. The Minister of Tourism, Yariv Levin, had this to say about the situation: “Tourism is one of the main market sectors generating income for the State of Israel. In order to continue to grow incoming tourism and meet the many demands, the Ministry of Tourism is required to find innovative solutions, such as the conversion of existing buildings, in order to increase the room supply in Tel Aviv and to allow a speedy and smooth entry for entrepreneurs into the developing tourism market in Israel.”
This past January, the Israel Ministry of Tourism held a conference to discuss office building to hotel conversions with potential investors, property owners, and hotel entrepreneurs. There have been 17 requests so far equaling to 1,384 potential new hotel rooms. To encourage hotel entrepreneurs to jump on board, the Ministry of Tourism is providing grants of 10% of the total investment as well as additional support through the process for those that meet the required conditions. Entrepreneurs must provide a viable hotel plan or a permit for exceptional use, be the owner of the building or having a long-term lease agreement, a bank letter of recommendation, and more. Each building will be evaluated by the Ministry of Tourism to maintain a standard quality for all facilities used by tourists.
This is great news for us and for you, the traveler! While it is a step in the right direction, more hotel rooms are needed throughout the country. More rooms means more choices when it comes to hotels and even more availability for selecting dates for tours. We hope that the supply of hotel rooms throughout Israel catches up with the demand soon, especially during peak seasons.
Michael LaBaw, co-founder of World Travel Agency LLC, is a travel agent, writer and photographer. Michael sold luxury vacations in Mexico for 15 years and his wife and cofounder, Cheryl is a 32 year veteran of the airline industry. The couple leveraged this background to share their passion for travel with others. Their affiliations with Andavo Travel and the Virtuoso worldwide network provide incredible resources that ensure their clients are presented attractive alternatives, options, and amenities appropriate for the budget allotted their travel. Michael and Cheryl specialize in group tours to Israel, Jordan, Africa and India. The couple blends their extensive global travel with ongoing education to provide their clients exceptional counsel, expertise and value. While particularly knowledgeable about travel in India, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and North and Central America, the couple also specializes in cruises and land destinations around the world.