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May 02, 1986 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-05-02

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Friday, May 2, 1986




How terrorism is affecting tourism,
and what Israel is doing
to counter the anxiety.

Special to The Jewish News


tour group from Adat
Shalom Synagogue will be
leaving soon for Israel,
minus a number of travelers
who in recent days have de-
cided not to go. A similar group from
Temple Israel has postponed to No-
vember its scheduled visit to Israel. In
Brighton, the school board this week
confirmed the decision of parents and
students and canceled a summer trip
to Spain and West Germany for high
school students. Michigan officials
expect a ten percent increase in
tourism this summer inside the state.
Now is the time when Americans
all over the country are making final
decisions about which countries
they'll visit to spend that annual rite
known as their summer vacation.
At stake, are the billions of dollars
those camera-toting tourists bring
with them and leave behind wherever
they go. And where they go is vital to _
countries whose economies depend on
the yearly invasion of visitors. Coun-
tries like Israel.
hi 1985, tourists spent about $1.3
billion while vacationing in Israel,
earning the country more foreign cur-
rency than any of its export products.
In all, 1.4 million people came to Is-
rael last year, with the largest,
number, 433,000 of them, coming
frbin' the United States:

Those Americans spent more
than $500 million while seeing the
sites. That's a lot of money, especially
now as Israel struggles to get its eco-
nomic house in order, with budgets
and services being cut and unem-
ployment increasing.
"Tourism is a big thing with us,"
Israel's Minister of Tourism, Av-
raham Sharir, told The Jewish News
in an interview in Jerusalem. Sharir
and other tourism officials had been
expecting tourism to be an even big-
ger thing in 1986. They were hoping,
in fact, that 1986 would be Israel's
best year ever, drawing more than
500,000 Americans, and more than
600 million American dollars. That
hope came from the fact that both
1984 and 1985 were record years for
Israeli tourism.
In 1984, about 400,000 Ameri-
cans vacationed in Israel. 1985 topped
that by 11' percent, a good increase
but not as good as it was supposed to
be. Fon from January to July of 1985,
tourism was up more than 25 percent
from the same months in 1984. Israeli
officials expected that pace to con-
tinue, if not to increase, through the
end of the year.
Then came TWA Flight. 847.
In. June 1985; Lebanese gunmen
hijacked that flight-with. 104 Ameri-
cans• aboard; killing a Navy diver and

holding the remaining hostages for 17
So much for a 25 percent in-
In August, instead of going up as
compared to the year before, tourism
to Israel dropped by two percent. And
kept dropping. It dropped even more
in October, due in large part to the
Achille Lem) hijacking and the
PLO's murder of Leon Klinghoffer. It
dropped even more in December, after
the terrorist attacks at the Rome and
Vienna airports.
In all, where from January to
July 1985, 244,000 Americans had
come to Israel, from August 1985 to
February 1986, only 153,000 came.
13y February, tourism was down 41
percent from the year before.
And if that's not bad enough,,the
deadly antics of Libya's Col. Qaddafi,
and America's reaction to them, has
only made things worse. While official
figures are not yet in for March and
April, almost all experts agree that
they'll show that tourism to Israel
from the United States is down by al-
most 50 percent from a year ago.
At this point, said one tourism of-
ficial, "we'll be lucky if we reach
1984's total of 400,000."
"We are not happy with the situa-
tion," said Moshe Shoshani, Israel's

Continued on Page 16


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