Israel in the palm of your hand

ByRON FRIEDMAN
October 4, 2010 01:31

Tourism Ministry iPhone app will find user's location and let them receive fast, updated information on sites, tours and events in immediate area.

3 minute read.



The iMenorah application for the Iphone allows use

ImenorahOnIphone311. (photo credit:.)

Israelis and visitors who own iPhones can now download an application that will give them access to a wide range of information on the nation’s tourist sites.

The application, launched by the Tourism Ministry on Sunday, will identify the users’ location and allow them to receive fast and updated information on sites, tours, accommodations and events taking place nearby, as well as in other areas they intend to visit. It can be downloaded for free from the Apple Appstore.

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The new application, named iSrael, is currently available in English and in Hebrew, but ministry officials say it will soon be translated into other languages including Russian, German and French.

The application has three main sections: sites, tracks and accommodations. Each section can be navigated either by operating the “Around Me” option, which detects the user’s geographic location via GPS and arranges the information by distance from the user’s location; or by choosing the “By Region” option, which presents information according to the part of the country the user wishes to explore.

Once a location is selected, users can choose from a list of sites according to their interests. The list includes themes such as archeology and history, nature and animals, holy places, national sites and parks and gardens.

Choosing a category opens a list of all the relevant available attractions in the area and users can select a specific site out of the options offered.

Clicking on a site opens a new page, which provides a photo and a description of the site as well as helpful information like contact details, hours of operation, a map of the area, a precise address and a link to the attraction’s website.

The tracks section allows users to locate tours based on their interest and physical abilities. The section is divided into hiking tours, bicycle tours, vehicle tours and tours for people with disabilities.

Each tour contains a description of the sites along the way and a map of the route.

For now the selection is fairly limited, but Tourism Ministry officials said that more tours will be available as more are uploaded by the ministry and as other tourism bodies contribute suggested tours.

The accommodation section is also divided by region and features a fairly comprehensive list of the available facilities split into three categories: listed hotels, field schools and youth hostels.

Clicking on a hotel provides information on things like available amenities, contact details, kashrut standard, suitability for young children or pets and maps.

According to the Tourism Ministry, in the future, the application will be fed by other tourism bodies and will include broader information on things such as public transportation, gas stations and hospitals.

Taking advantage of available technology, users will be able to upload their own photographs and comments to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter in real time through the application.

While iSrael is currently only available to iPhone users, ministry officials say the system will eventually be adapted for other gadgets.

“The Tourism Ministry continues to lead the service revolution for the tourist and visitor to Israel with the use of advanced technology, as is done in the major tourism cities around the world. This application joins the Tourism Ministry’s electronic marketing system that includes the expansion of the website into different languages, activities in the social media, setting up forums, and so on,” Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov said.

In the upcoming months the ministry plans to market the application via its website (www.goisrael.com), the tourism offices in Ben-Gurion Airport, Jerusalem, Eilat and Nazareth, and via various tourism industry bodies in Israel and overseas.

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