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Domestic travel agencies suspend all tours to Israel

By CHENG SI | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-10-11 00:57

An Israeli emergency responder gestures from the window of a damaged building after a rocket, launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel landed in Ashkelon, southern Israel, October 10, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

Travel agencies in China have stopped offering tours to Israel due to the escalating Israel-Palestine conflict, requesting that travelers think carefully before booking any trips to destinations considered risky.

"We have no travelers stranded in Israel or in transit on their way back to the mainland. We've so far taken tour offers to Israel off the platform and are helping our customers to cancel their trips to the area," said Liu Haomiao, travel portal Tuniu's director of tourism market in Middle East and Africa.

She said the platform has received requests from customers to cancel their trips to Israel and Jordan. Those customers were expected to depart around the middle of October and in November. "We've given full refunds to customers who were bound for these areas before Oct 25, following regulations and policies of respective airlines."

LY.com, a travel portal, has suspended individual or group tours to Israel and is making full refunds to customers who were booked to travel to Israel in October and November. Springtour.com has canceled a group tour of 28 people traveling to Israel on Monday, saying it would organize tours to the country later allowing for China's policy and the situation in Israel.

In August, China resumed group tours to 78 countries and regions and Israel was on the list.

Wei Changren, founder of btiii.com, a tourism-related financial portal, said that Israel is not a traditionally popular travel destination for Chinese tourists. Travelers from other countries also avoid the area because of the sporadic conflicts there.

"Israel is a technology hub and most people travel there for business. Jerusalem is attractive to pilgrims and people with religious beliefs, but it's not a popular choice for regular travelers," he said.

Wei suggested that travelers should stay up to date with all possible information about their destinations, such as travel updates from Chinese embassies or consulates, before departing for any place considered unsafe. "If they encounter any trouble while traveling, they should seek help from embassies or consulates."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday that it has activated consular protection and assistance for Chinese citizens and organizations in Israel and Palestine. The ministry asked Chinese people to suspend any travel plans to Israel and Palestine for the time being. Chinese people living in such areas have been asked to heighten self-protection measures and avoid outdoor activities.

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