(Yicai) Oct. 10 — Trip.com, Tongcheng, Spring Tour and other Chinese travel agencies have paused tours to Israel due to safety concerns amid the ongoing Palestine-Israel conflict and are offering refunds to those who have booked trips and not yet departed.
Spring Tour has canceled a 28-member group tour to Israel, which was scheduled to depart yesterday, Zhou Weihong, deputy general manager of the Shanghai-based travel agency, told Yicai. There were a number of group tours to Israel planned for the end of this month and early next month, and they have all been canceled.
Some 1,600 people have died in both Palestine and Israel as of Oct. 9 after a fresh outbreak in the Palestine-Israel conflict was sparked on Oct. 7 when Palestinian militant group Hamas launched thousands of missiles into Israel, according to state broadcaster China Central Television.
Although Israel is not a major destination for China’s outbound travelers, the Western Asian country attracts a steady number of Chinese tourists due to its unique scenic spots. It was also among the third batch of countries to which China’s outbound tour groups were resumed after pandemic restrictions were lifted earlier this year.
Tongcheng has no tourists in Israel, the Suzhou, eastern Jiangsu province-based company said. It is not accepting any bookings for travel to Israel for now, and it has fully refunded all group tours that were meant to depart later this month and next month.
Trip.com, Tuniu and other travel agencies also said they have no tourists in Israel at the moment and some travellers have applied for refunds for trips that they already booked.
The Palestine-Israel conflict is not impacting travel to other destinations in the Middle East and Africa, they added.
Tourism is obviously vulnerable and crises like this can affect people’s state of mind, said Zhao Huanyan, chief knowledge expert at Shenzhen-based Huamei Consulting Group. The Palestine-Israel conflict will destroy some heritage sites, which will need time to be restored. And all of this will harm local tourism, he added.
Editors：Shi Yi, Kim Taylor
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