Jerusalem is set to challenge Tel Aviv’s reputation as Israel’s top city destination for millennials in 2018 after a big rise in hotel occupancy this year.
As Israel welcomed its three millionth tourist last week, numbers were up around a quarter in the city on the same period last year, now at 64.8 per cent occupancy as opposed to 50.7% in 2016.
It’s all part of the city’s ongoing reinvention, believes Sharon Dayan, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at The Inbal Hotel, which is itself undergoing the second phase of its £15 million renovation.
The hotel is adding 50 new luxury rooms for 2018, as well as renovating the public areas before Passover and updating its Sofia restaurant from a dairy concept to a grill restaurant.
“Looking at the numbers in the entire state of Israel, occupancy is up,” Dayan says. “Jerusalem has the highest increase. I think it has to do with the fact that Jerusalem is very quiet now in terms of security, and the different municipalities are investing a lot in terms of events, concerts, festivals.
“Every week or two weeks, something is going on. It used to be a very strong characteristic of Tel Aviv but now it is in Jerusalem as well.”
While history, culture and religion have traditionally been the focus for visitors to the city, the revitalised nightlife and food scene are beginning to tempt more visitors, he adds – something which Thomas Cook’s Modern Ancient Life campaign tried to tap into earlier this year, along with high-profile hotel openings from other luxury chains including Isrotel.
“The Millennials are discovering Jerusalem more and more; our millennials and millennials that come as tourists.”
The Inbal itself is planning to draw inspiration from local artists as part of its ongoing renovation, working with the art school next to the hotel.
“It starts next year in Passover,” Dayan says. “We let them showcase their art throughout the year, artists who studied there 20 years ago and the new ones, so they can have their own gallery. It will be open for our guests and outside guests.”
And the new highspeed rail link between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv which is due to open next year, cutting travel time to 28 minutes, will only help further, he believes. “It’s going to be a nice present for Israel for its 70th year.”