About 1.2 million tourists entered Israel before fighting began — 13% more than during the same period one year ago, according to the Israel Government Tourist Office.
In July, after two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped, the simmering hostility between Hezbollah and Israel turned violent.
Now that the fighting has ceased, both Lebanon and Israel are turning their attention to rebuilding. Israel is hopeful that tourist flows will still be higher this year than last, when the final tally is made.
“Yes, July and August were affected – there was a 25% reduction in visitors during that time — but we think there will still be an increase for the year overall,” said Michelle Cohen, public relations manager at the Israeli tourist office in London.
Ms Cohen points to the higher tourist flows at the beginning of the year – the majority of which, 332,600, were from the US – as well as bookings for the months of September, October and November that are keeping track with the bookings from the same period a year ago.
“The north [the area targeted by Hezbollah rockets] is back to normal. It is business as usual; people are back on the streets, cafes and clubs are open and operating.”