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The Israeli travel and tourism industry faces COVID-19: developing guidelines for facilitating and maintaining a nuanced response and recovery to the pandemic

Joshua Schmidt (Department of Geography, Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Social Sciences, Jerusalem, Israel)
Alex Altshuler (Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences, School of Social Work, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel)

Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes

ISSN: 1755-4217

Article publication date: 31 May 2021

Issue publication date: 21 July 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to discuss how the tourism industry is contending with the economic and interorganizational challenges wrought by the COVID-19 outbreak and heightened by a lack of communication between the government and local businesses in the state of Israel. The researchers examine the dependency of the tourism industry on the general preparation programs that were developed and are currently being deployed by the relevant national stakeholders and question whether instead, it should use the pandemic as a catalyst for formulating its own nuanced tourism-travel-and-hospitality-oriented strategies and procedures.

Design/methodology/approach

Applying an ethnographic-based mix-methods research approach, this paper draws on insights from data compiled by fusing existing theoretical and emerging practical knowledge with empirical research (qualitative and quantitative) conducted among numerous relevant macro (governmental/centralized industry) and micro (hotels, travel and tourism operators and service providers) stakeholders as well as potential consumers.

Findings

It is essential that national and local government bodies form collaborative interorganizational relationships with local stakeholders to jointly activate case-specific hospitality and travel-specific risk mitigation management strategies. Moreover, the pandemic laid bare the tentative and fragile nature of the globalized tourism industry supply and demand chains, a condition that may be remedied via a pivot toward using national or even regional supply chains and goods and service providers. Within Israel, such changes could lead to increased economic benefits that extend beyond the tourism industry to provide certain security-related benefits.

Originality/value

Relating to idiosyncratic factors relevant to an Israeli cultural context, this paper uses the ethnographic field-borne familiarity of the researchers with the tourism and travel industries in Eilat and the Dead Sea to offer applicable suggestions for leveraging certain industry resources to both meet the demands of the present-day circumstances and cultivate a multifaceted organizational web of macro and micro social, economic and environmental networks so as to foster a more diversified and therefore resilient local tourism and travel economy.

Keywords

Citation

Schmidt, J. and Altshuler, A. (2021), "The Israeli travel and tourism industry faces COVID-19: developing guidelines for facilitating and maintaining a nuanced response and recovery to the pandemic", Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 340-356. https://doi.org/10.1108/WHATT-01-2021-0016

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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