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Tourism Ministry cancels domestic tourism ad campaign over high hotel prices

Minister Yoel Razvozov says he is working to convince hotels to lower prices and to compile a list of those offering discounts

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel.

View of the Herod's Palace hotel in Eilat on October 11, 2019. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
View of the Herod's Palace hotel in Eilat on October 11, 2019. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

The Tourism Ministry has canceled its campaign to encourage summer vacations within Israel due to the soaring prices at hotels around the country.

Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov decided to pull the campaign ads, which launched before he took office in early June, off the air due to the high costs of vacation lodging.

“I don’t see a reason to continue the campaign while the prices of vacations are so high — it’s a pity to waste public funds on this,” Razvozov said. “Vacations are not just for the rich.” The minister vowed to “act urgently” in order to deal with problem.

On Tuesday, the Tourism Ministry announced an initiative to request the Israel Hotel Association (IHA) compile a list of hotels that are willing to provide discounts to potential customers. The IHA is expected to publish a list of more than 100 hotels from around the country offering at least 15% off, alongside other offers.

The ministry said that prices within Israel are particularly high due to the COVID crisis causing a severe shortage of workers and restrictions on tourists entering Israel. A representative for the Tourism Ministry said that hotels in the Dead Sea and Eilat, two of the biggest tourist destinations in Israel, declined to participate, in part because hotels there are already close to full occupancy.

“I am pleased to take the first step on the path to lowering vacation costs in Israel, in accordance with the policy recently presented by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, in his talks with me,” Razvozov said. “I am aware of the free-market forces and the real challenges posed by this period for hoteliers, but vacationing in Israel cannot be only for the rich… this is, of course, just the beginning, and I hope that more and more hotels will join the list.”

New Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov at a handover ceremony, on June 15, 2021. (Moshe Hermon/Benovich Communications)

The Marker business daily reported that prices at hotels in Tel Aviv in July and August for two nights for a family of four ranged from NIS 3,300-NIS 5,300 ($1,000-$1,600), while prices for four days in Eilat would cost NIS 14,000 ($4,300).

But a report by Ynet claimed that some of the discount offers from the hotels purportedly on the Tourism Ministry list are not new, others expire quickly, and that some hotel representatives were unaware of the special offers.

During a press conference at Ben-Gurion Airport last week, Bennett asked Israelis to avoid unnecessary travel abroad this summer.

“At this stage I would like to request: Whoever does not need to go abroad, do not go abroad,” Bennett said. “If it is essential, that is okay, but if it is not necessary — travel around Israel. We have a beautiful country. We will strengthen domestic tourism. From here I appeal to domestic tourism people: Be welcoming, and see to having the same prices for everyone.”

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