Once A Resort Town, Eilat In Israel Transforms Hotels To House War-Displaced Families

by Mallika Khurana
Once A Resort Town, Eilat In Israel Transforms Hotels To House War-Displaced Families

In a remarkable twist of fate, the idyllic resort town of Eilat, nestled along the sun-kissed shores of the Red Sea, has undergone a profound transformation. This jewel of Israeli tourism, normally teeming with divers, beachgoers, and wanderers en route to the ancient wonders of Petra, has found itself at the epicentre of a wholly unexpected narrative. Amid an ongoing conflict with Hamas, Eilat, along with the neighbouring Dead Sea resort area, has become a sanctuary for displaced Israelis, offering solace and hope to those caught in the crossfire of a turbulent and devastating struggle.

Israel Hotels Transformed For War-Displaced Families

Israel tourism
Photo Credits: Canva

Eilat has now transformed into a sanctuary for displaced Israelis hailing from regions under threat due to the ongoing conflict with Hamas. As per Travel Weekly, Yaniv Belhassen, a distinguished professor in the Department of Tourism and Leisure Management at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, vividly described the situation.

He narrated his recent visit to Eilat, where he found it brimming with refugees, both families and civil society organisations. These individuals have sought refuge in this idyllic seaside town after being forced to flee their homes in places like Nir Oz and Nir Yitzhak, two kibbutzim that bore the brunt of Hamas attacks on October 7.

Belhassen’s family members, like many others, have also found temporary solace in Eilat’s hotels, expecting to remain there for at least another month. On the other hand, those who have lost their homes face the daunting prospect of an even more extended stay.

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War-Weary Refugees Find Solace In Eilat’s Hotels

Photo Credits: Canva

The story, however, extends beyond Eilat. In bustling Tel Aviv, the Brown Hotels group, known for its boutique hospitality, has opened its doors to a mix of evacuees, including families and military personnel. The beachfront gem, Carlton Tel Aviv, stands resilient, with General Manager Yossi Navi noting that the majority of their current occupants are displaced Israeli citizens, complemented by a smaller number of foreign embassy officials and journalists.

According to Travel Weekly, Navi highlighted the heartwarming aspect of the situation, mentioning the influx of volunteers who have arrived to provide activities and entertainment, offering a silver lining during challenging times.

In these trying circumstances, the Israeli government has stepped in to support evacuees. Pini Shani, the Senior Deputy Director General of Marketing at the Israel Ministry of Tourism, also revealed that the government is subsidising a significant portion of the hotel stays for those affected, injecting a much-needed lifeline into the hospitality sector.

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Resorts Overflow As Israelis Seek Shelter

However, not all sectors have been as fortunate. This crisis has taken a toll on tourism agencies, tour guides, and operators, rendering many jobless. While the government has pledged emergency financial aid, the lasting economic effects of the war raise concern. 

In essence, the ongoing conflict has disrupted what was shaping up to be a remarkable year for Israel’s tourism industry. The country had set its sights on welcoming 4.2 million tourists in 2023. However, this goal had already been impacted by the absence of Chinese, Ukrainian, and Russian visitors, it represented a significant step in the post-pandemic recovery.

The story of Israel’s tourism industry is one of resilience, adaptability, and a steadfast commitment to rebuilding in the face of adversity.

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva

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