A few minutes ago the Israeli Government Press Office issued the following. Whlle parts are NOT relevant to readers of the site I decided to cut and paste it in its' entirety.
UPDATE FROM THE TOURISM MINISTRY AS REGARDS
“OPERATION PILLAR OF DEFENCE” AS OF 20 NOVEMBER 2012
THE TOURIST SITES IN JERUSALEM, TEL AVIV AND NAZARETH ARE FULL OF TOURISTS; NO SIGNIFICANT REPORTS OF DEPARTURES BY TOURISTS; ONLY A FEW CANCELLATIONS
TOURISM MINISTER STAS MISEZHNIKOV: “THE CONTINUED FIRING ON THE SOUTH AND THE RESULTING OPERATION PILLAR OF DEFENSE, IS ONLY AFFECTING TOURISM IN A MINIMAL WAY FOR THE MOMENT. THE TOURISM MINISTRY IS MAKING PREPARATIONS FOR THE ECONOMIC REHABILITATION OF THE REGION WHEN THE OPERATION ENDS AND HAS FORMULATED A PACKAGE OF INCENTIVES AND BENEFITS FOR TOURISM SERVICE PROVIDERS IN THE REGION WHO HAVE BEEN AFFECTED. WE WILL BE HERE AFTER THE OPERATION HAS FINISHED IN ORDER TO HELP THE RESIDENTS WHO ARE DISPLAYING SUCH BRAVERY. THEY GIVE US THE COURAGE TO BE VICTORIOUS AND WE WILL NOT FORGET THEM THE DAY AFTER.”
Tourists currently in Israel:
More than 100,000 tourists are currently touring the country. To date, the ministry has not detected any departures en masse. The tourism sites in Tel Aviv, Nazareth and Jerusalem are bustling with tourists. There have been some cancellations in recent days but not at a level that would suggest a trend. Only a handful of groups currently in the country brought forward their departure date.
Several cruise ships canceled their planned arrival in Israeli ports in the short term. The ministry has received reports of groups from various destinations which have postponed their arrival in Israel – but not in significant numbers. To date and at this stage, it is still difficult to assess the scope of the damage for the tourism industry over the long term.
The Tourism Ministry established a situation room over the weekend that receives updates on the unfolding situation and constantly reviews assessments of the situation. At the moment, the main work of the ministry is explaining the situation to tourism wholesalers, tour operators etc. overseas who bring over groups of tourists and market packages to Israel. The ministry explains that, to date, there has not been any damage in populated areas beyond a 40 kilometer radius from Gaza. The IDF is involved in operational activity in the South of Israel, a safe distance from the traditional tourist routes and sites in the country and the situation is under control. The situation room remains in constant contact with the tour operators, tour guides, travel agents, airline companies etc, sharing information and guidelines for tourists as issued by the Home Front Command. These instructions in English from the Home Front Command have also been distributed to hotels.
Today (Tuesday, 20 November 2012), the Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, accompanied by Tourism Ministry Director-General Noaz Bar Nir and senior representatives from the Tourism Ministry, visited the South of Israel and met with tourism providers in Ashkelon and Beer Sheva to assess for themselves the extent of the damage to the tourism industry in the region that has been hit by hundreds of missiles in recent days. The minister announced an aid package that the ministry will distribute in order to rehabilitate the image and tourism of the area.