The Jewish holidays have just begun! What for Jews around the world is the most important time of the year, represents for tourism a wave of travelers ready to go. Many will travel to Israel to visit the country’s iconic sites; others will take advantage of this time to plan a trip outside the country.
In fact, during this long period of festivities, which this year falls from September 25 to October 18, the most important Jewish holidays are celebrated, which are intertwined with holidays not directly related to religion but to the history of this nation. This is defined as a real period of exodus, especially because for some of these holidays there is also the prohibition to work (but also to write, trade and travel).
After the pandemic years, this travel tradition is also returning to normal but expert estimates vary widely. Some argue that Israel’s inbound tourism has not yet returned to pre-Covid levels and that this holiday season will not be the one to change that. Others are predicting a big return of tourists; others go so far as to say that only one in three Israelis will travel outside their country and that inbound foreign tourism will be low.
ISRAELIS PREFER EUROPE
From flight search data, which indicates the travel intentions of tourists, it is evident that Israel’s outgoing tourism is decidedly greater than its incoming tourism. The pressure of demand from Israelis to foreign countries is decidedly greater than the opposite flow: during the last thirty days (August 28-September 27) searches by Israelis to foreign countries were 10.4 million, while the number of tourists wishing to travel to the country is 4.9 million.
The favorite destination of Israeli travelers is undoubtedly Europe; indeed, southern Europe. Topping the list are Italy (9.3% of the total), Greece (8.2%) and Turkey (7.5%). Together these three destinations garnered over six million flight searches. There is also strong interest in Central Europe, with the UK (5.2%), France (4.9%) and Germany (3.9%) at the top of the list. The only active long-haul market remains the US, in sixth place with 4.8% of the total.
In the ranking of Top 15 most desired destinations by Israelis there are practically only European destinations, with the Balkans having a strong appeal (Hungary and Romania first of all). For the rest, apart from the United States, there is also a fair amount of demand for Thailand, Georgia and the United Arab Emirates.
FOREIGN DEMAND GROWS SLOWLY
Demand for travel from abroad towards Israel, on the other hand, is more contained with a one to two ratio. Demand growth is very modest: the volume of searches over the past thirty days has grown with a daily average of just 0.41%.
According to the Haaretz newspaper, tourism during the High Holy Days to Israel consists mainly of Jewish faith tourists from the United States and Western Europe. Our data shows that travel demand for Israel is coming primarily from Italy (10.0%), the UK (9.5%), Germany (7.0%), France (5.9%) and the US (5.2%). Together, these five markets account for 37.5% of total demand.
The outlook for the foreign market is very uncertain: according to Yossi Fattal, CEO of the Incoming Tour Operators Association, this year foreign tourism is expected to recover by about 60% compared to pre-Covid. This scepticism could perhaps be due to the tensions that have arisen in recent days in the Old City of Jerusalem, where clashes between local police and groups of Palestinians have taken place.