In an effort to revitalize the Tourism Ministry and infuse it with young blood, the ministry on Sunday launched its first cadets course.

Until now, Tourism Ministry cadets took part in the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry cadets course, after which they received special training in tourism-related subjects at the Tourism Ministry.

Twelve men and women, speaking half a dozen languages, started the course after a rigorous recruiting and selection process, which saw the number of applicants whittled down from 400.

The select team, who come from varied backgrounds, will take part in an intense, three-month course, held in a boarding school environment, where they will learn the ins and outs of marketing Israel to foreigners. They will then get managerial positions in the ministry with hopes of eventually being posted overseas.

“Most of the people are relatively young (25-35) and new to the field of tourism,” said Arie Sommer, the course director and until recently the Tourism Ministry’s emissary in New York, in charge of all marketing activities to North and South America.

“We have people with all sorts of degrees and all sorts of interests, among them a former football referee, a fencing instructor, a filmmaker and an ancient Hebrew scholar,” he said. “All of them have sacrificed a lot in order to take part in the course and are driven by a deep-seated desire to enter the public service.

“The participants have their work cut out for them. In the next three months they will be constantly busy learning everything they need to know to become skilled tourism professionals,” Sommer said.

“Among the subjects we cover in the course are: marketing – both traditional and online – public relations, advertising, finance, economics, investment promotions, history, Israeli geography and many more. During their training they will take part in formal classes and seminars and also hold meetings with tourism professionals, hear lectures from experts and tour the country to better get to know it.

“The challenges of marketing Israel abroad are real, especially in light of the geo-political changes taking place in the world and Israel’s reputation.

Our overseas representatives need to be at the top of their game in order to meet the targets set forth by the minister of increasing tourism to five million people by the year 2015,” said Sommer. “I believe that the team we have possesses the drive and the skills necessary to achieve it.”

According to Sommer, after the course, the cadets will be given positions in the ministry in Israel; after two years, they will be eligible for foreign postings.

“We hired people on the basis of the second language that they speak: Russian, German, French, Spanish, Italian and, of course, English. If they prove themselves, they will be given postings overseas according to ministry requirements and their second language.”

Avital Kotzer-Adari, who recently returned to Israel after a six-year stay in Italy, said she jumped at the opportunity as soon as she saw the job posting in the newspaper. Having worked in the Israel Government Tourism Office in Italy, helping with accounting and marketing, she said she knew it was the right job for her.



“For me it’s a great opportunity to combine a career with my love of Israel. I grew up in a Zionist home and the values of serving the homeland are deeply instilled in me. It won’t be easy to leave my two-yearold daughter for such a long time, but I think the sacrifice will be worth it,” Kotzer-Adari said.

“I think everyone here feels the same way. A majority of the participants have families and not seeing them every day will be hard on all of us, but from what we can tell from the schedule, sleeping on the premises is necessary. We all look forward to getting to know each other and getting started on the course.”

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