US Jews to Lapid: Reconsider VAT on tourists

Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish organizations protest imposition of VAT on foreign tourists.

May 12, 2013 01:11
1 minute read.
Israelis and tourists at Tel Aviv beach

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 foreign tourists.

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 conferences.”

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 others.”

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.

Israel’s 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.

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