A yearly hot-air balloon festival scheduled to take place in the Besor National Park in the Negev Desert was cancelled on Thursday, following a barrage of rockets into Israel from Gaza overnight on Wednesday.
The park is located approximately nine miles from the Gaza border, and had sold 4,000 tickets to the festival, which had been in stages of preparation for months.
The head of the Merchavim regional council, Shai Hajaj, said the cancellation was “necessary to ensure the safety of the visitors. We will hold the hot-air balloon festival, in all its glory, next year in Habesor Park.”
Financial losses to tourism as a result of the stream of rocket fire are estimated in the millions of shekels.
The Shikma Beshur Tourism Association announced that card-holders could either choose to receive a full refund, or to give the price of their tickets to organizations helping the residents of southern Israel.
“After much deliberation, in view of the security situation, the hot-air balloon festival will not take place this year and you are entitled to a full refund,” the organization announced. “You can decide whether to receive a partial refund, full, or no refund at all—and donate the money to the south.”
“Our hearts are broken, after many hours and days of great efforts to hold the event, whose sole purpose was to promote business and tourism in the region.”