Post-flotilla, Turkey is seething at Israel and Israel is furious with Turkey. Friction between the two nation’s politicians is higher than ever, and in both countries shoppers are boycotting goods from the other (Turkish coffee is currently having a Freedom Fries moment in Israel). But there seems to be one winner in all the tension – the Israeli tourist industry.
In recent years Turkey has been an exceedingly popular tourist destination for Israelis. But now the government is advising people not to travel, saying it’s not safe. It has launched a campaign promoting “staycations”.
This comes on the heels of unrest in another popular tourist spot for Israelis, Thailand, which has put many off visiting. How long before somebody comes up with a conspiracy theory claiming that Israeli hoteliers are behind Turkey-Israel tensions and Thai unrest?
As Israelis are set to stay put, more people are coming to Israel. According to Tourism Ministry figures 317,000 tourists visited Israel in April 2010 – an all-time record for the month of April (perhaps, Sarah Palin’s “flocking” comment wasn’t so far off).