JERUSALEM (Feb. 25)
The slump in tourism is continuing with no relief in sight, although Israelis who decided to sit out the Persian Gulf war abroad are beginning to come home.
The figures released here for the first half of February are depressing for the tourist industry, which is a leading earner of foreign currency.
Fewer than 6,000 visitors logged in at Ben-Gurion Airport between Feb.1 and 15, more than 80 percent less than for the same period last year.
In January, 23,000 tourists came to Israel, a drop of 73 percent from January 1990.
Industry sources say there is no economic justification at this point for foreign airlines to resume service to Israel, which they suspended more than five weeks ago as war became imminent.
But substantially more Israelis are arriving at the airport than are leaving at this time, an indication that the mass exodus of Israelis fleeing Scud missile attacks has been reversed.
Tourism officials hope the successful outcome of the war against Iraq will revive tourism here in time for the spring season.