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IsramWorld President Shares Thoughts on Israel Travel SafetyJuly 25, 2014
In light of current events in Israel, consumers and agents have expressed concern about traveling to the state. Richard Krieger, president of IsramWorld, shared some frequently asked questions with his thoughts on safety, security and what travelers need to know.
Q: I have clients leaving shortly for Israel. Should they go?
A: The reality is that life - and tourism - in Israel is continuing virtually normally, despite the headlines. All hotels, restaurants, tourism sites, monuments, holy places, museums and attractions are open and operating as normal. And there are about 100,000 overseas tourists currently in Israel.
Q: Yes, but...
A: No responsible tour operator would permit travelers to go a place that was unsafe. It would simply be a massive blunder.
Q: Yes, but what about the State Department?
A: The State Department has suggested people bound for Israel consider postponing their trip. Some have - but the majority have not. 'Consider postponing' is certainly not saying 'don't go.'
Q: But what if things change?
A: As our CEO & Chairman, Ady Gelber, is always reminding me, IsramWorld has been doing this for almost a half-century, and we've been through this many times before. We monitor the situation 24/7. Our local team in Israel gives us minute-by-minute updates on how the situation is affecting tourism in general, and IsramWorld clients in particular. Our team of planners, guides and tour managers are highly experienced at adapting routings or itineraries - whenever it might be necessary.
Q: What about the airlines?
A: This week the FAA did indeed impose a temporary suspension of flights to Tel Aviv. This lasted 36 hours. Some 90 airlines operate flights to Israel including, from North America, El Al, Delta, United, US Airways, Air Canada and dozens of European carriers.
Q: What about future bookings?
A: We've had some cancellations for fall and winter, but most people are taking a wait-and-see attitude; and bookings are continuing to come in - a little more slowly than usual, but not that much. I think there is a growing understanding that Israel - despite all the noise - is a safe destination, and deals responsibly with tourism. As you may know, government statistics show that 2013 was the best year ever for American tourism to Israel, and 2014 is 15 percent ahead of last year.