The increase in tourists visiting sites in east Jerusalem that began in 2004 continued through last year, East Jerusalem Development Ltd. said as it forecast a further increase with the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the city's unification this year. Among the popular attractions for the year, the Jerusalem Archaeological Park and Davidson Center had 212,000 visitors in 2006, 10% more than the previous year and an increase of 70% over 2004. Similarly, tours along the walls of the Old City drew 100,039 visitors, which was 7% more than 2005 and 280% higher than 2004. Gidon Shamir, CEO of EJD said the rise in tourists visiting the city was thanks to the quiet on the security front and to special programs such as birthright, which has brought tens of thousands of visitors to Israel for the first time. Average tourist stay down to nine days Tourists to Israel spent an average nine days in the country in 2006, compared to 11 days in 2000 when tourism to the country was at its peak, the Tiberias Hotels Association reported. The association conducted a survey on the average time spent in the country in light of the "Go Galilee" program to promote tourism to the Galilee region later this month. FC Barcelona president Juan Laporta (left) with Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog (courtesy)Association chairman Avi Zandberg said the dramatic decline resulted from last year's war in Lebanon and that the "Go Galilee" program aimed to counter the trend by bringing travel organizations, journalists and television crews to the area. Leumi opens service at Charles de Gaulle Airport Bank Leumi has expanded its services to business travelers flying through Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris with the opening of a new business desk in the El Al lounge at the airport. EL AL passengers at Charles de Gaulle can now conduct business transactions via Bank Leumi while waiting for their flights. The Leumi business desk in the El Al lounge was inaugurated by Leumi CEO Galia Maor and El Al chairman Israel Borovich last week. Daniel Dead Sea Hotel opens The Daniel Dead Sea Hotel opened to the public under new management at the start of the year, claiming to offer a new "alternative" concept to vacationers at the Dead Sea. After around a year of negotiations, the Tameres Hotels Resorts & Spas group bought what was previously the Golden Tulip Hotel from the Fattal Group for $32 million taking control of the Daniel at the start of 2007. The group said it brought in new management, a new chef, introduced a new Shizen spa to the structure and is currently undergoing a series of cosmetic changes in the presentation of its 302 rooms. The Tameres group, which outsources hotel management, has embarked on a NIS 500,000 campaign to introduce the new hotel to the public. Herzog shmoozes FC Barca president With the campaign promoting tourism to Israel now settled on the billboards of Arsenal Football Club's Emirates Stadium in London, the Tourism Ministry is turning towards Spain for a possible cooperation with one of the giants of European soccer - Barcelona FC. Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog met with FC Barcelona president Juan Laporta during Laporta's visit to Israel this week, initiating cooperation between the two. "It will be my honor to encourage tourism to Israel," Laporta said. "You have a wonderful country, I believe that this visit will have a follow up." The first Barca - Israel partnership will take place when the club participates in opening the Israel booth at the FITUR 2007 tourism exhibition in Madrid at the end of the month. Herzog presented a proposal to embark on a joint advertising campaign at the club's stadium, Camp Nou similar to the one at Arsenal which kicked off at the start of this season. BA drops fuel surcharge to TA Responding to the drop in oil prices, British Airways has reduced its fuel surcharge on shorter long-haul routes including London to Tel Aviv. The surcharge on tickets sold in Israel for long-haul flights scheduled at under nine hours in duration will be reduced from $65 per leg to $55, or to $110 for round trips, while the charge on longer flights will remain at $65 per leg to reflect the higher fuel consumption on these flights. The reduction applies to tickets issued from January 12, the airline said.