Israeli Cruise Review Sinks in Ocean of Garbage

On September 15, Gabriella Le Breton published her review of a cruise to Israel in The Times of London (paid subscription only). What followed was a stunning display of ignorance and a lack of fact checking. It started with the teaser:

Fear of violence has cut tourism to Israel but a floating hotel offers a safer way to see fascinating sights

Could The Times have been more inaccurate in its opening salvo?

UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 20: The Times has removed the article in its entirety from its website, presumably due to the number of complaints received. The full text of the missing article can, however, be viewed here (pdf).

According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, as reported by the Jerusalem Post:

there were 752,000 tourist entries during the first quarter of 2012, an all-time high. There were 2% more tourist entries during the first quarter than in the corresponding quarter of 2011, and 1% more than in the corresponding quarter of 2010, the previous all-time high.

One-day tourist entries rose 78% to 41,000 in March from 23,000 in March 2011.

Is this a country suffering a drop in tourism?

As for the rest of the article, it includes such throwaway scene setters as:

  • Darkness had only just fallen in the Palestinian-controlled city of Bethlehem and already its dark streets were emanating tension — lit not by stars but by the flashing blue lights of armoured police vehicles acting on a security alert. Par for the course in this war-torn region…
  • Israel is not an easy place to visit independently despite it being small.
  • the prospect of spending many uncomfortable hours (sometimes days) in the notorious immigration offices at Israel’s airport and borders.

We asked Mark Feldman, CEO of Israeli travel agent Ziontours Jerusalem for his reaction:

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