Israel's Tourism Sector Suffers From Aftershocks of War

Thousands of northern Israel's small businesses that rely on tourism are struggling to stay afloat, the Wall Street Journal reports. The rockets stopped falling after a United Nations-brokered ceasefire, which began Aug. 14, but the tourists haven't returned. A State Department advisory urges caution for travel to Israel, and tells U.S. citizens to defer all travel to the Gaza Strip and West Bank. The damage to Israel's tourism industry comes after recent strong growth in the sector, recovering from the downturn during the Palestinian intifada that peaked between 2001 and 2003. Israel's Ministry of Tourism had predicted before the war that nearly three million people would visit Israel this year, surpassing the record 2.4 million visitors in 2000. In 2005, tourism revenue totaled $4.4 billion, or about 3.5 percent of gross domestic product. Because of the war, this year tourism is now expected to contribute $2.9 billion to GDP, after officials revised down the expected number of visitors to 1.6 million.

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