Israel’s Tourism Ministry has pledged to build some 4,500 new hotel rooms this year, and around 4,000 more next year, as travelers return to the country and the tourism industry picks up after the consequences of the pandemic.
By contrast, a mere 5,000 total rooms were put on the market in the five years before the COVID-19 outbreak.
The ministry said this week that it was trying to speed up the construction of new rooms (through the extension of existing hotels and the creation of new hotels) in order to strengthen competition in the market and, ultimately , to make holidays in Israel more affordable.
“Adding rooms will allow us to accommodate more tourists, which will bring a lot of money to the economy. Successful land marketing [for hotels] is one more step towards achieving the goal I had set for tourism in Israel: welcoming 10 million tourists a year by 2030. We will continue to act to encourage and accelerate the implementation of tourist accommodation rooms in Israel, and removing more and more obstacles in the industry,” Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov said.
A number of hotel development tenders are currently open in Ashkelon, Kiryat Shmona, Kiryat Motzkin and Katzrin. They are part of 2022 plans to add 770 rooms in the north of the country, 2,100 rooms in the south and 1,650 rooms around the Dead Sea.
The Ministry of Tourism said it had also seen a dramatic increase in the number of bids for each tender, suggesting that property developers see a good business opportunity in the hotel’s expansion plan.
Tourist numbers are still not where they were before 2019, but hotel stays have been steadily increasing throughout the year. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), 17.1 million hotel nights were recorded between January and September this year, compared to 19.5 million during the same period in 2019.
Overall, hotel occupancy so far this year is estimated at 61% compared to 70% in the first nine months of 2019. The Jerusalem market was the most affected (with a occupancy of 53%) while the north was the most popular region with occupancy rates. by 69%.
The most important change concerns the balance between foreign tourists and locals. Foreign tourists accounted for 45% of total stays in 2019. In 2022, 72% of hotel nights were “staycationing” Israelis.
With more travelers entering since Israeli skies reopened to foreign tourists in March, hotel stays could end the year at something very close to pre-pandemic levels.