By Hadas Kuznits
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — How is the rising crisis in the Middle East affecting groups traveling to Israel?
Iris Hammi, executive vice president of Gil Travel in Philadelphia, an agency specializing in Israel and Mideast travel, says it seems to be having little effect on their customers:
“People are calling and asking questions, but I have to say that there are not many cancellations at all.”
Those who are cancelling, she says, are most often parties travelling with children or older people.
In fact, she says, some groups do the opposite of what you might think they would do when there’s conflict in the Middle East.
“We also have groups that come in exactly at this time that are going for solidarity reasons, and they go exactly at these times,” she tells KYW Newsradio.
Sharon Levin, head of school at Barrack Hebrew Academy, says that for over 30 years students in their 11th grade program have spent a semester in Israel and, of course, the greatest concern of parents is the security of their children.
“Any programs like that in Israel are directly tied in to all the ministries, and they get immediate notice of anything,” explains Levin, adding, “And we always have planes ready to bring kids home if necessary.”
Levin says this year’s incoming 11th graders are scheduled to travel to Israel in late August. Final decisions on whether to follow through with the program will be made in the middle of that month.
“Usually these things last a couple of weeks and you move on, and I think that our parents are willing to give it those few weeks,” she said today.
Hammi, of Gil Travel, says those who choose not to follow through with their travel plans tend to postpone rather than cancel their trips.