'Green acres' is the place to be...for rural fun

Tourism Ministry announces the launch of a new publicity campaign highlighting Israel's rural tourism sector.

By RON FRIEDMAN
January 26, 2010 18:08
2 minute read.

 
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In an effort to boost local tourism, the Tourism Ministry on Wednesday announced the launch of a new publicity campaign highlighting Israel's rural tourism sector.



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The NIS 500,000 campaign will focus on tourism opportunities in the periphery and run under the slogan "There's a vacation and then there's…. rural fun."



The campaign will start Thursday; it will last a month and will be accompanied by promotions from various travel agencies and tourist attractions that will provide special discounts and opportunities to those who purchase rural travel packages.



According to the Tourism Ministry, the campaign will expose Israelis to various domestic destinations and the attractions they can find there. These range from private and tranquil kibbutz guesthouses and farms on moshavim, to active vacations for families that include bicycle tours, agricultural activities, tours to wineries and olive oil refineries, visits to dairy farms and bee hives and participation in local festivals.



The campaign will appear in newspapers and leading Web sites and will be accompanied by a new Tourism Ministry Web page that will provide potential tourists with the details of the campaign, the tour packages on offer, a calendar of events and links to relevant Web sites that deal with rural tourism.



"We see great importance in strengthening local tourism by increasing visits, nightly accommodations and the use of tourist attractions, which will maintain continued activity and employment," said Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov.





"Increasing rural tourism activity will enable the employment of additional workers to the tourism sector, while expanding the range of products."



"Rural and agricultural tourism is one of the main economic boosters for the periphery. Along with agriculture, it is the main source of employment for the residents of the periphery," said Agriculture Minister Shalom Simchon. "The new campaign is an additional step towards establishing new jobs and promoting small businesses, as part of the ministry's plans for rural development."



According to Tourism Ministry statistics, in 2009 NIS 2 billion were spent on rural tourism.



An additional component to increasing tourism to the periphery is a joint effort of the Tourism Ministry and the the Negev and Galilee Development Ministry to launch a grading system for Israel's rural guesthouses (tzimmerim).



The grading system, which recently completed a successful pilot in the north, will be expanding to the rest of the country.



The grading system measures 140 different criteria in line with international norms and give the rooms grades of A, B and C, based on the levels of quality and service. The criteria include things like the type of mattresses and pillows prvided, distance of the tzimmer from chicken coops or cow sheds, the size of room, noise from the air conditioning, credible advertising and many others.



There are about 9,000 tzimmers in Israel which mainly attract domestic tourists during weekends, holidays and vacations. The annual occupancy rate of rural guesthouses stands at 38 percent.



The Israel Tourist and Travel Agents Association said that in response to requests from the Tourism and Agriculture ministries, the association had approached its members to offer the best possible tour packages.



"Every agency sent us their best deals. The packages include accommodations, entrance to local attractions and meals, or discounts on meals at local restaurants," said a spokeswoman for the association.



Full details can be found at the Tourism Ministry Web site at www.goisrael.gov.il.

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