Turkish ad campaign attempts to reach out to Israelis

But Israeli boycott continues.

March 3, 2010 22:40
3 minute read.
Turkey's new ad campaign, unveiled yesterday, aims

people on beach 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Turkey unveiled a $2 million advertising campaign on Wednesday, designed to attract Israeli tourists to the country. However, with an ongoing boycott by Israeli labor unions in place, it may be an uphill battle.

Tourism to Turkey from the Jewish state plunged 44 percent in 2009 from its peak in 2008.

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According to Va’adim CEO Yaakov Alush, whose company arranges events for workers committees, more than 50% of Israeli vacations are organized through the workplace, by the labor unions.

In their January 2009 conference, the unions decided to boycott Turkey as a tourist destination. The decision followed Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s remarks to President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in the wake of Operation Cast Lead last year, that “when it comes to killing, you know well how to kill.”

Alush told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that the money being used for the new advertising campaign would be better spent on improving Israel’s image among the Turkish public. He cited a “bad feeling” toward Israelis as one of the primary reasons for the continuing boycott.

However, Turkey’s cultural attaché to Israel, Inanc Ozcakmak, disagreed, alleging Wednesday that the boycott was politically motivated.

He noted that despite the diplomatic fallout between the two countries following Operation Cast Lead, there had been “no incidents against Israeli tourists in Turkey” in 2009.

Israeli tourism fell from 558,000 tourists in 2008 to 322,000 in 2009. This past January, the unions decided to continue the boycott, calling for an official apology from the Turkish prime minister for his words at Davos.

Alush said Israelis “still remember the prime minister of Turkey’s words.” But he added that another reason for the boycott was the “bad feeling” in Turkey toward Israelis.

Ozcakmak responded that Israelis still received a warm welcome in Turkey.

“Warm hospitality is a tradition in Turkey. Politics is politics and tourism is tourism,” he said.

Although tourism this year is not yet approaching the 2008 numbers, it may be on the upswing. Ozcakmak noted a positive trend.

“In January 2010, 9,000 Israelis came to Turkey, compared to 6,727 Israelis in January 2009 – an increase of 33.7%. It’s important to me to emphasize that Israelis are always warmly received by the Turkish people and the tourism industry. I believe that we must continue to work together to promote tourism ties between the countries, and leave the politics to politicians,” he said.

The latest campaign’s slogan is “So much you know, so much you don’t.” It targets families and aims to promote lesser-known attractions in the country. The $2m. price tag is similar to what has been spent in previous years.

“Our main target audience is families with children looking for a perfect and peaceful vacation among the clubs of Antalya, and through the new campaign we want to expose the Israelis, who are seeking alternative vacations, to the less familiar places in Turkey,” Ozcakmak said.

“Istanbul was crowned this year’s cultural capital of Europe. This means that there will be cultural and artistic activities, a fact which will increase the tourism potential of the city even more. I hope that this year many Israelis will decide to participate in our celebrations, whether in Istanbul or any other part of Turkey.”

The campaign is set to begin Thursday on television and Friday in print.

Daniel Zimet of Zimet Marketing Communications in Tel Aviv has handled Turkish promotion in Israel in the past.

“As long as the political situation between both countries keeps quiet, I believe this year will be better than last year as the blunt implications of the Turkish prime minister fade,” he said. “But if the political aspect will toughen... it might be worse. But altogether, I am optimistic.”

Israeli tourists make up roughly 2% of the tourism market in Turkey, which comprised 27 million people in 2009.

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