Thursday, December 27, 2018

State Pays Airlines to Fly to Israel, but Do All the Tourists Visit Here?

Three years after the government began offering foreign airlines subsidies to open new routes to Israel, the number of tourist arrivals has ballooned on the routes benefiting from the aid. But the cost has been high and in the case of Eilat the boost to the local tourism industry may be less than it seems.
Figures obtained by TheMarker show that airlines opening new routes to Uvda Airport, which serves the southern resort city of Eilat, were paid 8.3 million euros ($9.4 million) for the 2017-18 winter season, while those flying to Ben-Gurion International Airport, Israel’s main international airport, were paid 13.75 million euros over 2016-18.
But in the case of the Uvda assistance, there are indications that Israel is not only luring overseas visitors to Eilat but to nearby Jordanian and Egyptian resorts, too. In effect, Israel is subsidizing their tourism industries.

Israel was a late and reluctant entry into the practice of subsidizing airlines to fly to their country, but after the disastrous 2014-14 tourism season for Eilat, tourism officials decided they had to take drastic measures.

The ministry said an expert study showed the grant was justified but declined to say what criteria it used or how it reached its conclusions.

Since the program began the biggest recipients have been LOT Polish Airlines, which has received 2.05 million euros for seven new weekly flights. The low-cost carrier Ryanair has 2.3 million for eight weekly flights from Poland. Wizzair is the biggest recipient of them all with 3.3 million for 12 flight’s weekly. Air India is expected to get 750,000 for its new New Delhi-Tel Aviv route.
There are no data on how the subsidized flights are doing, but figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics show that in the first 10 months of this year tourist arrivals from Poland were up 89%, compared with the same time in 2017. Air India’s new route boosted incoming tourism from India by 21%.
27/12/18 Rina Rozenberg Kandel/

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