Israel Ministry of Tourism, Providing Refuge, Airlift and More

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Photo by Jorge Fernández Salas on Unsplash.

The attacks of October 7 continue to reverberate throughout Israel, affecting every single sector of its economy—tourism not excepted. Throughout, the Israel Ministry of Tourism has rallied together tourism industry leaders and entities to provide aid and comfort to those who have been displaced or who have lost loved ones through numerous initiatives.

“On October 7, the lives of Israeli citizens were changed forever,” said Eyal Carlin, Israel’s tourism commissioner to North America, in a press statement. “In the nearly four weeks since that horrific day, the tourism community has united like never before to provide comfort to those who are grieving or have loved ones missing, while looking ahead to a time when we can again safely welcome travelers back to our amazing country.”

Israel Ministry of Tourism Working with Tourism Industry Leaders

Together with local tourism industry leaders, the Israel Ministry of Tourism has launched differing initiatives to help the people of Israel. Among them:

  • The Israel Ministry of Tourism, in partnership with the Israel Hotels Association and in cooperation with the National Emergency Management Authority, is providing housing in hotels and youth hostels for all those who have been displaced or evacuated. The ministry has already sourced tens of thousands of guest rooms, and all meals are included.
  • The Transport Companies Organization’s involvement includes assistance in evacuating residents from Gaza and other areas of concern and providing buses for organized tours for evacuees.
  • KKL-JNF’s emergency financial assistance to benefit communities living under fire is estimated at approximately NIS 40 million. These initiatives for the benefit of the national effort include, among others:
    • Ongoing assistance in evacuation to guest houses in the center of the country, extended stay for those already evacuated and the implementation of educational and recreational activities.
    • Purchasing temporary concrete shelters, security equipment, generators and computer equipment for the local emergency teams in the communities up to 7 kilometers from the border.
    • The volunteering and special needs department of KKL-JNF initiated a series of activities in apartments and sheltered housing for people with special needs who cannot leave their homes. These include distributing experiential kits and board games created by KKL-JNF and encouraging dialogue to provide hope in times of uncertainty. All activities are carefully created to suit the unique requirements and abilities of the special needs communities. It is hoped that the activities can be expanded beyond the current facilities in Jerusalem and Kfar Saba.
    • JNF USA has raised $27.5 million to support on-the-ground efforts on everything from housing and mental health trauma services to food and clothing.
  • Israel Airports Authority
    • Ben Gurion Airport has been operating continuously. The airport is open for departures and arrivals, providing service to all airlines – Israeli and international – while ensuring security and safety.
    • Israeli airline Israir has festooned its aircraft’s exteriors with yellow ribbons and offers one-way fares between Ramon and Ben Gurion airports for families visiting loved ones evacuated to hotels in Eilat. It also provides one-way fares to evacuees of the Gaza periphery staying in Eilat wanting to travel to the country’s center along with medical teams en route to assist evacuee families.
  • Israir Airlines has flown some 50,000 passengers and launched rescue flights from various destinations to bring home Israeli citizens, reservists and security personnel stranded abroad. Israir has flown families to speaking engagements overseas to draw attention to their plight and flown cargo flights carrying much-needed equipment.
    • On its regular daily flights to Eilat, Israir offers tickets for evacuees at just NIS 69.
    • Israir continues to fly to several Israeli destinations, such as Larnaca, Athens, Baku, Tbilisi, Batumi and Varna.
    • Israir has supported artists, municipalities and medical personnel.
    • The service center, based in Sderot, operates day and night to answer all inquiries.
    • Every boarding card carries the words “Am Yisrael Hai” (the people of Israel live)
  • Israel Tour Guides Association has opened a situation room to create connections between voluntary organizations and members of the association to provide a response to the many requests received from the field in areas such as:
    • Civilian (agricultural activities, transport)
    • Evacuees (transport, equipment, food, clothing, accommodation etc.)
    • Security and rescue forces (equipment for reservists, transport, food etc.)
    • Activities included the transport of combat equipment, medical equipment, donations and even public diplomacy in various languages (video editing and distribution)
  • The Israel Nature and Parks Authority is assisting in various ways:
    • Offering free tours for evacuees staying in the Dead Sea area to nature reserves and sites such as Ein Bokek, Ein Gedi and Masada. These tours, organized in cooperation with the Tourism Ministry, the Ministry of the Negev, Galilee and National Resilience and the Or movement, include transport, guiding, refreshments, security and free site entry. More tours are planned in the region and around the country.
    • Rescuing protected wild animals from the communities near the Gaza Strip
    • Transferring dozens of birds of prey from a breeding center in the south to better-protected areas such as zoos
    • Ensuring the safety of wild animals with rangers in nature conservation enforcement areas
    • Offering online environmental education to children whose elementary schools are closed for security reasons.
    • About half of the INPA sites remain open, with free admission for evacuees.
    • Free activities with the educational team for children evacuated to the Eilat region in Hai Bar Yotveta (plans in place to widen these activities to other areas)
    • The INPA website, which has changed the colors of its logo to the national flag, offers a wide range of activities and content for children and families unable to leave home.
    • Transfer of mattresses and equipment to the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) from night camping lots that are no longer in operation (for example, Hurshat Tal)

Israel’s tourism industry will continue contributing by assisting citizens and soldiers wherever possible and whenever needed. Numerous organizations have set up funds to assist those who have been displaced.

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