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Sections of northern Israel targeted by Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War have been designated to receive half the 2007 budget for tourism development, the Tourism Ministry announced Thursday.
The budget, based on the recommendations of a government-commissioned Ernst & Young study released last year, allocates NIS 44 million out of a total NIS 90m. to the country's North, setting aside another NIS 12m. to develop tourism in Jerusalem and an additional NIS 11m. for Acre and Jaffa. The remaining budget will be distributed to other tourist sites around the country, the ministry said.
The investments, based on findings contained in the year-long, $1m. Ernst & Young study, will be used to upgrade and expand the country's tourism infrastructure and current offerings, the ministry said.
The Ernst & Young report, the first of its kind in Israel, laid out a comprehensive plan to double foreign tourist traffic to the country over the next five years.
Thursday's announcement followed the release earlier this week of a separate NIS 65m. budget for promoting tourism to the country. That budget, also in keeping with the Ernst & Young recommendations, allocated NIS 55m. for overseas marketing by the Tourism Ministry, with an additional NIS 10m. to be spent encouraging Israelis to use their tourist shekels at home.
The bulk of the foreign publicity budget will be spent in North America, where the Tourism Ministry will follow Ernst & Young's advice to seek "critical mass" in its promotional efforts in one region. According to the Ernst & Young report, Israel's biggest pools of potential visitors are located in the US, Western Europe, Russia and China.
Referring to the two budgets approved by his office this week, Tourism Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich said Thursday, "These steps will bring about a blossoming of Israel's tourism industry in particular and a growth in Israel's economy more generally."