JERUSALEM (Jul. 18)
Minister of Tourism Moshe Kol warned last night that Israel might price itself out of the international tourist market because the Government has failed so far to implement its decision to give the tourist industry the same assistance provided to other export industries. Kol said that the failure to grant premiums to hotels on the basis of their foreign currency earnings would result in making Israel too expensive a place for many tourists to visit. He said the government was failing to act because of the mistaken notion that tourism is not a “real” export industry since it markets services instead of goods.
Hanoch Givton, director general of the Tourism Ministry reported a record 313,000 visitors during the first six months of this year, a 37 percent increase over the same period last year. Givton said that about 70,000 prospective tourists from Europe and North America had to be turned away this year for lack of hotel space. He said that over 7000 rooms are under construction but only about 2000 will be completed by the end of this year. For the time being, the Ministry has discontinued all tourist promotion and advertising and is concentrating on improving tourist facilities, Givton said. He said the income from tourism for the first quarter, not including fares, amounted to over $28 million. He said the United States was still the biggest source of tourist traffic to Israel, with France second.