BONN (Dec. 19)
German tourism to Israel, which dropped sharply last year, is rising again and there is a good chance that the downward trend may be reversed, according to Eli Noy, director of the Israel Government Tourist Office in Frankfurt.
He reported that 17,000 German tourists went to Israel in October, up 17 percent from the some month last year. The figure for all of 1983 is expected to be 108,000, compared to 107,500 in 1982. In that year, German tourism declined by 31 percent from the 1981 total, due to the war in Lebanon and the bitter personal attacks on former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt by former Premier Menachem Begin during the 1981 Israeli election campaign.
Tourism from other countries to Israel also fell last year but the decline from Germany was steepest. Unlike the United States, Britain and France, Germany has few Jewish tourists to send to Israel. Jews are the only tourists who will travel to Israel in times of political strain and image problems.
But Noy believes that the prospects for 1984 are good. He noted that all of the major German tour operators have included Israel in their packages for next year, indicating that they consider the country to be politically acceptable once more and safe. But hopes for a significant increase have not yet materialized.
One problem is the continuing decline of the West German Mark relative to the U.S. Dollar, the basis for calculating the cost of tours to Israel. The Mark was selling at 2.75- $1.00 in Frankfurt last week, a 19-year record low for the German currency.
Since Israeli hotel owners refuse to list their prices in Marks and charge tourists on the basis of daily exchange rates, Germans asked to book their tours in advance are wary because they cannot know what the final price will be.