Violence in Holy Land hits tourism in peak month

But tour operators advise holidaymakers not to cancel their trips, reports Aileen Cruz

Violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories is forcing travel companies to cancel Holy Land tours at the worst possible time. Mid-September to mid-October, during which the Jewish "High Holy Days" of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur fall, is the prime pilgrimage season, and tourist arrivals remain high during Britain's autumn half-term.

Violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories is forcing travel companies to cancel Holy Land tours at the worst possible time. Mid-September to mid-October, during which the Jewish "High Holy Days" of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur fall, is the prime pilgrimage season, and tourist arrivals remain high during Britain's autumn half-term.

"We have cancelled a Holy Land tour that included Jerusalem's Old City," said Darren Panto, sales and marketing manager for Peltours, a London-based company specialising in Israel, Egypt and Jordan holidays. "Nazareth and Bethlehem are also pretty much out of bounds right now." But every day was different, he said, and the company was monitoring the situation closely.

Tourism is big business in Israel, with 3 million visitors spending about $3.5bn (£2.3bn) annually. At the moment there are over 200,000 people on holiday in Israel.

Travel companies specialising in Israel report that they have had to avoid certain areas in the Holy Land and manoeuvre around closed roads in north Israel. But most have managed to reschedule itineraries rather than calling off tours altogether. There had been few cancellations due to unrest. The Foreign Office is advising travellers on its website that following "serious clashes" between Israelis and Palestinians in several locations, "the potential for further violence remains high", and visitors should keep in touch with developments in the Middle East.

Tourists are specifically warned to avoid Jerusalem's Old City and "unnecessary journeys" within Jerusalem. Also ruled out are the West Bank and Gaza, specifically Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus, Ramallah and Gaza. "We also advise against travel to Mount Scopus and the Mount of Olives," the Foreign Office adds. But Rafi Caplin, managing director of Middle East specialist Longwood Holidays, said most of the places worst affected in this month's conflict, such as the West Bank and Hebron, attract few holidaymakers.

Amnon Lipzin, director of the Israel Government Tourist Office for UK and Ireland, said the majority of British visitors to Israel at this time of year were heading for Eilat and the Red Sea resorts, far from the trouble. In autumn and winter these areas get more tourists from Britain than from any other country. Holidays to the Dead Sea were still selling and generating inquiries.

There had been some cancellations, slightly adjusted sightseeing schedules, and a slowdown in new reservations, said Mr Lipzin. But he added: "A lot of people have already made all of their arrangements and I assume that most of them will carry them out, despite the fact that they [may] encounter a problem with their itineraries. Even under the present conditions, we do not advise people to cancel or change their plans to visit Israel, including areas under Palestinian authority."

And Mr Caplin said: "I would encourage anyone coming to Eilat not to think twice about it," he said.

For the latest Foreign Office travel advice, visit: www.fco.gov.uk/travel/countryadvice.asp

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
film
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Environment
The vaquita is being killed by fishermen trying to catch the totoaba fish, which is prized in China
environmentJust 97 of the 'world's cutest' sea mammals remain
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Finance Manager - Global Leisure Business

    £55000 - £65000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in their fiel...

    Investigo: Senior Finance Analyst - Global Leisure Business

    £45000 - £52000 per annum + bonus+bens : Investigo: My client, a global leader...

    Investigo: Financial reporting Accountant

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: One of the fastest growing g...

    Sphere Digital Recruitment: CRM Executive – Global Travel Brand – Luton – £25k

    25,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: CRM Executive – Global Travel Brand – Luto...

    Day In a Page

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
    There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

    In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

    The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

    It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
    The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

    Staying connected: The King's School

    The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
    Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

    Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

    Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

    The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
    Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

    When two worlds collide

    Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?