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With a prediction that 1.4 million tourists will stream into the country over the next seven months and the commencement of a $15 million worldwide marketing campaign that will promote Israel as a winter vacation hotspot, the Tourism Ministry officially opened the 2007-2008 winter tourism season in Israel on Sunday.
"The success of this winter campaign and the growth in tourism that will come with it is a key component for us to ensure that the next few years will be great for tourism," said Tourism Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, adding that the Ministry intends to hit 2.1 million tourists this year, 2.8 million in 2008 and 5 million by 2012.
"Israel in the winter time is a very attractive place for many tourists from around the world and we hope that our winter tourism industry will become a more important part of our overall tourism package."
The international marketing push will include, for the first time, heavily promoted campaigns in Poland, Brazil, China, South Korea and Japan - countries that over the last few years have significantly increased the amount of money they pump into the local tourism industry - as well as in countries that have been staples of the local tourism sector such as the US, Germany, England, Russia, France and Holland.
"The goal of this operation is to improve the image of Israel and to stress the uniqueness of what the country has to offer, with the winter campaign focusing mainly on Eilat as one of the best winter vacation destinations in the world," the Ministry said.
The Ministry added that it hopes the campaign will lead to the creation of more flights arriving here from more varied international points of departure.
Earlier this year, the Tourism Ministry kicked off an $11m. campaign in North America, which accounts for well over a quarter of incoming tourism in Israel, with the goal of increasing the number of North American tourists to Israel by 100,000 in 2008.
Separately on Sunday, the Moshavim Movement said it had begun canvassing the owners of guest houses, restaurants and places of entertainment on moshavim across the country in an effort to have them sign on to a new quality assurance contract.
Owners who sign the agreement obligate themselves to maintain a minimum standard of quality and cleanliness in their places of business, promise to fix and repair any damages in a timely manner, honor any agreements or discounts owed to customers, uphold a commitment to advertise truthfully and dedicate themselves to providing customers with the highest level of service.
The Moshavim Movement said it will compile and publicize a listing of every Moshav-based tourist destination that signs the agreement, although it did not specify where or when the list would be published.
"We intend for every hotel, restaurant, coffee house, bar and entertainment venue owner to sign on to this agreement as a way of promoting and advancing the Moshavim tourism industry," said Moshe Zarchi, chairman of the tourism committee in the Moshavim Movement. "The pact will serve as a measurement of our commitment to improve the level of the service that we provide for our customers."
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