Since March 2020, when the COVID-19 crisis began, there are no tourists entering Israel, hotels in the city have been closed. Of 90% of hotel occupancy, only about 8% was recorded in April.
The heads of the tourism industry have called on the government to preserve the tourist infrastructure in the city that led on the eve of the COVID-19 at the peak of tourist occupancy from abroad and is now empty of tourists.
MK Orit Farkash-Hacohen, Minister of Tourism: “I see great importance in reaching and supporting the city of Nazareth precisely in these days of social tension in Israel. Nazareth and the Galilee landscape have been hit twice this year, firstly due to the lack of tourism as a result of the COVID-19 and secondly due to the disturbances and riots of the last two weeks. The damage is severe, so this week I agreed with the Minister of Finance on continued assistance to the entire tourism industry, and at the same time I am working to return tourism to Israel and the pilot for the introduction of tourists has already started”. The Minister of Tourism added: “Political and security instability comes at a price and has a negative effect on my inner social resilience and we should not ignore it. Nazareth and the Galilee landscape are an example and role model for coexistence and mutual respect and I see special importance in being here now”.
Amir Halevi, Director General of the Ministry of Tourism: “None of us have expected such a horror scenario, as we have gone through in recent months. We have invested a lot here in the past and see it. The Ministry is about to invest in infrastructure, and miracles and wonders have been done here. By March 2020, we were with half a million tourists a month, and we were on our way to a peak of 5 million tourists. The crash following the COVID-19 was rapid, from one hundred to zero. To return to pre-corona quantities will require a long and painful process. In a meeting with the Minister of Finance this week we presented the plan to bring back tourism and preserve the tourism infrastructure, but until then we have the domestic tourism. We intend to work to return Israeli tourists to Nazareth. We need to be optimistic, and very soon we will see the Israeli visitors back here and later also tourists from abroad”.
Amir Haik, president of the Israel Hotel Association: “We should not talk about coexistence, we should do it. We will work for the common life of all citizens in the country. If I asked the hoteliers of Nazareth in March 2020, how are you? They would say that it was excellent. Who came to visit Israel and one day the country stopped, the world stopped, tourism stopped. Since in the tourist bars we lick the wounds, waiting for the tourists to come back here so we can revive the business. Today we are at 8% occupancy in April in Nazareth. The tourism minister must do everything she can to bring the tourists back to Israel. At the same time, Israelis need to go to hotels, restaurants and other businesses in Israel. There is a hotel infrastructure that has cost millions and is being built for years. There is a hotel infrastructure and we must continue to support it. We have submitted a plan to preserve the infrastructure. Approved, transferred to the Ministry of Finance to approve support for the hotel infrastructure by the end of the year”.