Originally published in Baptist Press – http://www.bpnews.net/43022/israel-tourism-continues-amid-strife
WASHINGTON (BP) — With the temporary halt to U.S. and some European flights to Israel, the Israel Tourism commissioner for North & South America released a statement stating that “tourism is continuing, and hotels, restaurants, tourist sites and holy places are open as usual.”
The commissioner, Haim Gutin, noted that carriers such as El Al Israel Airlines, Israir, Arkia Israel Airlines and British Airways are continuing their flights.
The FAA halted U.S. flights to and from Israel on Tuesday at 12:15 ET after a Hamas rocket exploded near Ben Gurion International Airport, injuring one Israeli. The ban was reevaluated 24 hours later and remains in effect today in the U.S. for another 24 hours.
“Please know that life in Israel, and tourism to Israel, goes on and we welcome all visitors in peace,” Gutin said in his July 23 statement. “Some 75,000 tourists are in the country, and their travel arrangements are proceeding as planned. We foresee the current conflict ending soon — and that all will return speedily to normal.”
Israel’s military is engaging in Operation Protective Edge against Hamas militants in Gaza amid a three-week outbreak of strife that has claimed 29 Israeli and more than 600 Palestinian lives.
“It is important to understand that no ban has been proposed” for travel to Israel, Gutin said, “but the State Department has urged Americans to ‘consider’ the situation.”
Tourism officials expect “all Israeli airlines to add additional flights to absorb passengers from cancelled flights,” Gutin said.
Ending his statement, Gutin said Israeli tourism offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and in Canada are “at your service to respond to enquiries, concerns and to restoring ‘business as usual’ very soon.”
Compiled by Baptist Press intern Myriah Snyder. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).