Israelis and tourists at Tel Aviv beach 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Havakuk Levison)
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish organizations sent Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Tourism Minister
Uzi Landau a letter on Friday protesting the imposition of value-added tax on
According to Conference of Presidents’ heads Richard
Stone and Malcolm Hoenlein, “the addition of the VAT would add significantly to
the cost for tourists and will, we fear, cause many to reconsider, postpone, or
even cancel trips to Israel. In addition, it will negatively impact important
programs like America’s Voices in Israel, Taglit-Birthright, missions and
Citing the “central role in building ties between Jewish
and non-Jewish communities around the world and Israel” that they believe
tourism plays, Stone and Hoenlein wrote the Israeli leaders that not only would
this relationship be harmed by the imposition of VAT, but that the tax would
“harm not only those who work directly in the tourism industry, but also those
who are employed in supporting industries; suppliers, merchants and
While recognizing the “need for additional funds and for all to
contribute,” the letter urged Israel’s leadership to find “other sources” that
the authors believe will not damage Israel’s tourist sector.
tourism lobby has estimated that tourism could drop by as much as 14 percent if
vacationers are subjected to VAT.
Three and a half million tourists
visited Israel in 2012, with the majority of sightseers hailing from the United
States and Russia.