Outraged at the decision to close the sky to tourists: “What about compensation?”

by time news

Less than a month ago, the government finally opened the skies to inbound tourism, after long months in which tourists could not enter Israel. But it turns out that the joy was early: last night (between Saturday and Sunday) the Corona Cabinet decided again on the hermetic closure of Ben Gurion Airport to tourists, in the shadow of fears of the new corona variant spreading around the world. Outline compensation or assistance.

“We are very disappointed with the situation, not that anyone can be blamed but the situation is bad twice,” said Oshri Deri, CEO of the Brown Hotels Group, which operates 22 hotels in Israel, most of them in Tel Aviv and 4 in Jerusalem. “For the first time – after a long time That we do not have tourists, that we do not have a compensation mechanism and that we only host Israelis on the weekends, until they finally opened the sky for us and we really started to see the entry of tourists – it has not yet started and is already over.

Oshri Deri, CEO of the Brown Hotels Group | Photo: Rafi Daloia

“Second time – the uncertainty, not saying what will happen because of this thing. I would expect the government first of all not to rush to close the sky in front of everyone, this is never the solution, I would expect them to remain a little more considerate and the reactions a little more informed and less hysterical. It has already been decided on this thing that in the same breath they will publish the compensation they give to businesses. “

According to Deri, “The order of the hour is the municipal hotels”: “We see that the holiday hotels in Eilat and the Dead Sea work very well with beautiful occupations, while we, who are in the urban areas, do not receive tourists and business customers. “35% -40% occupancy, in periods we are used to 80% occupancy”.

20,000 employees, half a billion shekels a month

David Tucker, CEO of the Ramada and Royal Hotel in Jerusalem, and chairman of the Jerusalem Hotels Association, explained: “Most hotels in Jerusalem, and we are among them, build on inbound tourism and not on Israeli tourism. Our main problem is the workers – before “When we closed in March 2020, we employed thousands of workers, we went down for about a year and a half to 10-15 workers. We started coming back in July and closed the sky again. So how do you deal? “First of all the owners flow money all the time with no choice. Closing is not an option. We are in the industry for many, many years and I strongly believe in inbound tourism, I have experienced it ups and downs, and it is true this time it is the most extreme decline I have experienced in the industry but I am optimistic.”

Tucker believes the state could have taken other steps that would provide a real solution to the industry’s problems. “The first help we need is to open the airport, and not to close the sky so quickly. I do not live on the generosity of the government, I live on sales.

David Tucker, CEO of Ramada and Royal Hotels and Chairman of the Jerusalem Hotel Association

“I’m petty, I’m not a doctor and do not understand great variants, but at least as an outside observer it seems that they took into account the issue of the variant but did not take into account the damage done first to the workers. “Today I sit at home without income, expenses are piled up, and in my gut feeling they did not take that into account.”

Following the cabinet decision, the incoming chairman of the Hotels Association, Avi Nissenkorn, was quick to issue a letter demanding government assistance to the industry, and especially to municipal hotels. The hundreds of hotels based on inbound tourism employ about 20,000 workers and the loss of revenue of the industry, as a result of the closure of the sky, is estimated at half a billion shekels a month.

“The damage to inbound tourism hotels and workers in the industry is fatal,” Nissenkorn wrote. “Against the background of the understanding that as long as the barriers to entry into Israel are not removed, incoming tourism hotels will not be able to recover – care must be taken to help the industry survive the critical period leading up to the return of tourists.”

“The state shuns us and everyone despairs”

And not only the hoteliers are hurt, also the guides who make a living from guiding tourist groups around the country, have been shouting for a year and a half and no one is listening. “Before the Corona, I had invitations for 2020-2022, two and a half years in advance,” said Ganit Peleg, a guide herself and deputy chair of the Inbound Tourism Guides Association. An almost catastrophic, economic and mental situation has arisen. “

Ganit Peleg, Deputy Chairman of the Israel Guides Association for Inbound Tourism

The immediate decision of the Corona Cabinet, to close the sky from day to day, caught Genit and many like her in complete surprise. “A group of tourists, who did all the tests and booked a trip and yesterday, on the way to the plane, to the airport, inform them that they can not get to Israel. What does that do to Israel’s name – close like this from day to day. “We were hanged on November 1, which opened the sky, and are once again closing in on us. We are the first branch to enter this chaos and have not yet emerged from it.”

“There’s no reason to tie what’s going on here to tourists who are supposed to come in. Who is looking at us at all? Why did I take on all the activity – so as not to sink into a terrible depression. As soon as I saw this month, the market starts to recover My life. I saw how long it takes things to come back to themselves. There are a lot of travelers in the country but we have to provide work for all the guides for a whole month. And the state does not give compensation, shakes off, as if to tell us: ‘ Despair is in everyone and you see nothing on the horizon. “

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