Tourism in Israel: growing up

Tel Aviv, Israel

With current peace processes and an overall lessening in global tensions, the tourist industry in Israel is fast expanding. Due to the large numbers of people across the world with historical, religious and political attachments to Israel, tourism is already one of the most important sectors of the economy.

Nineteen ninety-six began with the greatest upswing in tourism Israel had ever experienced: in the period January to February a growth of around 30 per cent in visitor arrivals was registered as compared to the same period in 1995. Many new visitors came from Korea, Holland and Sweden.

Currently the tourism industry in Israel can offer 44,000 rooms in a total of 106,000 beds. This situation is changing, as rooms for a further 10,000 beds are already in varying stages of development.

IHA activity reaches all levels

The Israel Hotel Association represents 350 hotels from Metulla in the far north to Eilat in the far south. Ten local branches of the Association operate independently, handling ongoing local issues. The IHA works to promote and develop tourism in Israel; represent hotels before national, government and local government bodies; protect the rights of hoteliers and protect the legal interests of IHA members vis-à-vis other bodies. IHA activities to promote tourism include international congresses, advertising and marketing, commercial links with travel agent associations and other activities aimed at creating innovative concepts to increase incoming tourism.

The IHA-organised Centre for the Professional Development of the Hotel Industry organises seminars, lectures and courses aimed at raising the standards and professionalism of Israel's hotel industry. The IHA also supports hotel studies at an academic level, forging links with university institutions, in order to train staff for hotel professions. The Association has appointed special teams of professionals whose sole task is to search for ways of promoting tourism in Israel, ensure the marketing infrastructure to serve all hotels, guarantee the quality training of future human resources and oversee the adopting of operational systems suitable for the 21st century. We aim to bring the services of Israeli tourism in line with the modern age.

The IHA also believe that the more tourism in Israel grows, the more prestige will be attached to the industry and the more the economy will benefit - and the higher priority tourism will receive at a national level.

Other areas that the IHA is active in:

  • the Economic Department updates and instructs members regarding new economic laws relevant to the industry, and other economic data. The department offers assistance on matters relating to taxes, customs, credit, etc;
  • we advise on how members can receive government aid to finance hotel construction and expansion;
  • the IHA is active in labour relations, carrying out ongoing consultancy on work agreements, rules and regulations, helping to ensure that professional personnel are attracted to the hotel business;
  • a special IHA bureau operates at Ben Gurion Airport to help tourists who have not yet booked a hotel in Israel.

Additionally, the IHA works together with the Ministry of Tourism to encourage activities such as incentive travel. Israel is renowned for the quality of its hotel accommodation, and many of the larger international luxury hotels offer convention facilities and business support services, as well as the normal dining and entertainment services, guest resources, and the recreational and amusement availability expected from any quality establishment.

At the IHA we believe that Israel's status as a tourist destination will be determined on the basis of tourist satisfaction - incoming tourists and local tourists alike. The number of tourists visiting Israel will be higher or lower according to this parameter. The IHA seeks to raise hotels to the highest possible level, thereby increasing tourist satisfaction to the maximum.