The data shows that travelers should be very careful when visiting Jerusalem during this year’s Spring Break holiday travel season.
According to travel risk management service GlobalAid, Jerusalem receives about 1.5 million international visitors each spring for the Passover, Ramadan and Easter holidays, a 55 percent increase over the city’s total population.
“Like any other crowded city, it makes moving around the city a challenge,” said Kent Weber, Global Save’s senior manager. “There is no avoiding large gatherings. They are just part of the deal. Avoid them when you can, embrace them when you can’t, with care.”
While Israel remains a reasonably safe travel destination, the US State Department is telling US citizens to exercise caution due to terrorism and civil unrest.
To stay safe during their spiritual adventure, Jewish, Muslim and Christian travelers to the city’s holiest sites should follow guidelines from Global Rescue to minimize risk and ensure an enjoyable trip.
— Visit popular attractions during off-peak hours to avoid pickpockets. Harding Bush, senior manager of security operations at Global Rescue, advises travelers to wear clothing such as vests or sport coats that have pockets or pockets lined with zippers on the inside, making it difficult to grab a bag. Also, leave that expensive watch at home. To thwart identity thieves, passengers must hide their names, phone numbers and addresses. No exposed luggage tags.
– Monitor local activities. Exploring one of the world’s most divided and controversial regions during the spring holidays adds to the tension. According to the United States Department of State, “Violence may occur without warning in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.” Escalation in Jerusalem and the West Bank has been reported in recent weeks. Travelers should register with their country’s embassy to receive warnings and advice. For example, American citizens in Israel must join the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive email and text messages from the United States Embassy in the event of an emergency in the area.
– Anticipate traffic and plan around it. Expect delays and possibly the inability to access certain areas. Hiring a local professional driver can help streamline your adventures and take some of the hassle out of it. “Driving in a foreign country is a high-risk activity. Always hire a local driver who knows the area. Not knowing directions or being confused can put you in a vulnerable position or make you a target of attack,” Bush said. .
— Stores and markets may not be fully operational or open at all during holidays. Ask for a list of hotel staff and a map of these services and check they are open. Local knowledge is key here.
Visitors should be respectful of these traditions and refrain from behavior that may be considered offensive or, worse, obscene. During this period, travelers flock to the city for religious pilgrimage or faith-based tourism and their customs and traditions are abundant.
For the latest travel news, updates and offers, subscribe to the newsletter TravelPulse newsletter.