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Published on : Tuesday, August 22, 2017
When Operation Protective Edge, the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, came to an end in August 2014, the port city of Eilat was as shell-shocked as anyone.
The foreign airlines especially from USA and UK briefly suspended flights to Israel, and some tourists already in the country left early while others still abroad cancelled their reservations.
It was a time that the arrival of the tourists for 2014-15 winter season that followed the war plunged into 68 percent from a year earlier to just 37,800.
The number of room nights in the hotels of Eilat dropped by nearly half, to 406,000.
Suddenly, the low-cost carriers like Ryanair and Wizz Air were flying to Eilat. The number of tourist arrivals in Eliat grew to 52,300 in the 2015-16 winter season and to 74,000 in 2016-2017.
The year 2017, there are more than 150,000 are expected to pass through Ovda, a number not seen since the heyday of Eilat tourism in the 1990s.
The Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair is now provoking to enhance the tourism of Eliat. Last winter, it accounted for 26,500 of the tourists landing at Ovda and this year it will be make 28 weekly flights to Eilat.
Wizz Air is going up from two flights a week to seven this winter. All the airlines are scheduling 60 weekly flights this winter.
The Tourism Ministry of Israel has extended the subsidies to May 2018, instead of April, in the hopes of luring more visits.