Israel's Tourism Minister, Haim Katz, has asked tourists from all over the world to visit Israel again. He made this request on Tuesday at ITB Berlin, a big travel event. Katz said Israel is a safe place for travelers. He's also talking to the German government, asking them to remove the travel warnings for Israel.

Israel Assures Tourist Safety, Appeals for International Visitors

(Photo : Taylor Brandon on Unsplash)

Israel Calls for Tourists to Come Back

Katz used the fact that 150,000 people living near the Gaza Strip were moved into hotels for safety as proof that the country is secure. These people had to leave their homes after attacks by Hamas on Oct. 7, 2023. Now, about 80% of them have returned home.

Before the pandemic, Israel saw 13,000 tourists each day. But, according to Breaking Travel News, after the attacks in October 2023, the numbers dropped sharply. For a while, only about 2,700 to 3,400 tourists were visiting daily. Ksenia Kobiakov, who works for Israel's tourism office, hopes the numbers will go up to 9,000 or 10,000 visitors daily soon.

Israel is a popular destination for tourists from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. In 2019, 402,000 tourists visited from these countries. The number was 207,500 in 2022. Up until Oct. 7, 2023, the count was at 213,302. But then, tourism almost stopped because of the attacks. Now, Israel is working hard to get tourists to come back and enjoy what the country has to offer.

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UK Advises Against Travel to Israel Due to Safety Risks

The UK Foreign Office has issued a warning against travel to much of Israel and all of the occupied Palestinian territories, citing safety concerns from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. This advice comes amid a situation that has led British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and easyJet to halt their flights to Tel Aviv. Since the conflict started last year, there have been thousands of reported deaths in Israel and Gaza, with tensions in the region escalating.

As per The Times, the latest guidance recommends against all travel to significant parts of Israel, including popular tourist destinations like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and urges against all but essential travel to the rest of the country. The Foreign Office highlights the risks, especially in southern Israel near the Gaza border, and advises travelers to stay updated through local and international news sources.

Furthermore, recent military actions on Jan. 11 by US and UK forces against Houthi rebels in Yemen, following attacks on commercial ships linked to Israel, have intensified the situation. The Foreign Office suggests that military activity in response to the Houthi threat to international shipping in the Red Sea might suddenly influence travel advice for nearby countries.

With a state of emergency declared across Israel and the possibility of borders closing without warning, the UK government recommends that British citizens currently in Israel register their presence for updates. 

Major airlines have paused services to Tel Aviv until March 2024, offering refunds or amendments for existing bookings. The situation remains fluid, and the UK government advises against travel to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv for now, reflecting the serious safety concerns in the area.

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