Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced on Thursday night his intention to compete for tourists with the world’s most visited cities.

“Eight years ago, Jerusalem had just a little over 2 million tourists a year, and today we have 4 million a year. I want to reach 10 million,” said Barkat at the UJA-Federation Mission of New York-sponsored event at the David Citadel Hotel.

The conference, created in part to celebrate the country’s 65th birthday, was attended by senior UJA delegates, 50 mayors from across the nation, ministers and MKs.

“When we analyze where we were eight years ago, we can see that we have huge potential to fulfill the vision of reaching the scale of tourists seen by other cities,” continued Barkat. “New York has 50 million tourists, Paris has over 60 million, and Jerusalem had a little over 2 million – far from where we should be.”

At the conference, Barkat detailed the city’s recent achievements, and emphasized the significant increases in cultural events, festivals and new businesses.

“The more culture and business we create in the city, the more tourists we’ll bring,” he said. “The recent Jerusalem Marathon had 20,000 runners, and in June, for the first time ever, we will host the upcoming Formula 1 race that will take place in the city.”

Indeed, between June 13-14, Formula 1 cars and drivers are scheduled traverse the city streets as part of Formula 1’s “Peace Road Show,” in a historic debut.

Jerry Levin, president of UJA-Federation of New York, said he looked forward to continuing the organization’s partnership with the capital. “In 2008, shortly after Nir Barkat became mayor of Jerusalem, he reached out to UJA-Federation of New York to be a partner to help him achieve his extraordinary vision for the city,” said Levin. “This evening, Mayor Barkat thanked UJA-federation for our partnership and [said he] hoped to continue working with us in the future.”

The UJA-Federation of New York mission, here for one week, will also highlight how its beneficiary agencies have improved lives throughout the country, including atrisk children, Holocaust survivors, new immigrants and needy families.

The delegation is led by the organization’s leaders Alisa and Dan Doctoroff, Carol and Jerry Levin, Marcia Riklis and Michael Kessler, Susan and Jeffrey Stern, and Elizabeth and Michael Varet.

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