The online travel reservation service Booking.com is planning on adding a warning to all properties in the West Bank owned by Israelis within a few days, stating that “visiting the area may be accompanied by an increased risk to safety and human rights, or other risks to the local community and visitors.”
According to a report by “Hatzinor” television program, the English version of the warning will also include the word “occupied”, and the company is also contemplating making the same changes for properties in East Jerusalem.
The exact wording of the statement is not final, though it’s clear that it will be published on all of Booking.com’s platforms, not just the Hebrew version of the website.
“Our goal is to make it easier for every person to experience the world,” the website said in a statement. “In accordance with this goal, we are attempting to ensure that our clients have information needed in order to make decisions about destinations they wish to visit.”
Booking.com added that “certain areas in the world affected by conflict may pose a greater risk to travelers, so we provide our customers with information to help make decisions and encourage them to check their government’s official travel guidelines as part of the decision-making process.”
Israeli Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov held an urgent meeting following Booking.com’s decision, after which he said the Tourism Ministry agreed to put political pressure on Booking.com as well as speak with the company directly to reverse the decision. The ministry will also consider a marketing campaign aimed at bringing tourists to the marked areas.
“A business will not dictate to us what area is Israel and what area isn’t,” Razvozov said in a statement. “We intend to act with all the means at our disposal to reverse this decision.”
Efrat settlement local council head Oded Ravivi referred to the move as a human rights violation, saying “Booking.com is the one violating human rights, particularly the right of Palestinians to earn a living with dignity and their right to participate in the reality of normal life on the ground.
“Hundreds of Palestinians work at various tourist sites and in the many guest accommodations,” Ravivi said. “Unfortunately they will be the first to lose their livelihood.”