As Israeli travelers abroad scrambled to find flights back home when the war with Hamas broke out, those who had planned luxurious vacations were met with resistance when seeking refunds.
he cost of a week-long vacation for a family of four can reach tens of thousands of shekels, accounting for the destination’s prestige, accommodation, and planned activities. The recent war in Gaza has undoubtedly altered Israelis’ perception of service providers abroad, prompting them to exercise caution before parting with their hard-earned money.
In the Facebook group “Travel is here,” boasting approximately 395,000 members, this issue has become a national mission. The community has aimed to shed light on accommodation providers abroad who have empathized with Israeli tourists and allowed cancellations and gave refunds, compared to those who have not.
Hundreds of group members have commented on various lodging options, tour guides, and car rental companies, sharing their experiences and recommendations. The primary focus has been on highlighting places that have shown an understanding of Israel’s current conflict with Hamas in Gaza, even when cancellation seemed impossible. It should be noted that, according to the group’s feedback, most service providers employed by Israelis have accommodated cancellations.
Unexpectedly, some lodging providers have even expressed concern for the well-being of Israelis, alongside wishes for peace and a swift end to the conflict.
For instance, Yulia Mashkovski shared her experience with Agriturismo Corte Speranza, a vacation home in Mantua, Italy. Despite having stayed there two years ago, the owner reached out via WhatsApp to inquire about the one-time guest’s well-being and express concern amid the ongoing war.
Aviva Zakai had a similar encounter, sharing that the owners of an Airbnb apartment in Porto, Portugal, sent her an emotional message of support.
These heartwarming gestures have led group members to endorse these accommodations for future Israeli vacations.
Israelis refused refunds, cancellations due to the war with Hamas
However, there have also been negative instances where lodging owners refused to cancel reservations or offer refunds to Israeli travelers, who were unable to make it to their destinations due to the war.
One group member shared their experience with a hotel in Italy, who at first refused to refund their cancellation, and then eventually only refunded 30%.
But the countries most commonly complained about were Turkey and the Netherlands, with many members of the group saying that they felt the negative reception they received was mainly due to them being Israeli.
In one correspondence with the Crown Inn hotel chain in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, a representative expressed their opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, stating, “It is indeed very unfortunate that Israel has been terroristing [sic] Palestine for years, as a result of which a ‘war’ has now broken out.”
Eden Herstein, a member of the group, has taken on the task of compiling and managing a blacklist of accommodations, tour guides, travel agencies, and vehicle bookings. This list distinguishes between entities that have shown empathy towards Israelis and those that have refused refunds.
Currently, 25 locations have been added to the blacklist under consideration. Notably, Amsterdam in the Netherlands accounts for 18 entries. The list will remain updated to assist Israelis in making informed decisions about their future vacations once the war with Hamas ends.