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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
healthMeet the volunteer users helping to see if the banned drug can help cure depression and addiction
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Life and Style
tech
News
i100
News
Foo Fighters lead man Dave Grohl talks about the band's forthcoming HBO documentary series
people
News
i100
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Day In a Page

    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

    Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

    Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
    Fifa corruption: The officials are caught in the web of US legal imperialism - where double standards don't get in the way

    Caught in the web of legal imperialism

    The Fifa officials ensnared by America's extraterritorial authority are only the latest examples of this fearsome power, says Rupert Cornwell
    Bruce Robinson: Creator of Withnail and I on his new book about Jack the Ripper

    'Jack the Ripper has accrued a heroic aura. But I'm going after the bastard'

    The deaths of London prostitutes are commonly pinned on a toff in a top hat. But Bruce Robinson, creator of Withnail and I, has a new theory about the killer's identity
    Fifa presidential election: What is the best way to see off Sepp Blatter and end this farce?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    What is the best way to see off Sepp Blatter and end this farce?
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards