A PLANE at Ben-Gurion International Airport..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In 2019, Ben-Gurion Airport expects to enter the “world’s largest airports” club, with more than 25 million passengers each year. That club includes all the major airports in the globe. This recognition is good news for the Israeli economy, as growth of tourism traffic is linked directly to strengthening the local financial sphere.
Anyone following the promotional work designed to attract more visitors and tourists could not help noticing the massive marketing efforts. Two years ago, the Tourism Ministry promoted a global advertising campaign to encourage incoming tourism to Israel. The estimated value of that campaign was NIS 40 m. This investment is beneficial because people worldwide hear all kinds of things about Israel and opening their minds to the real Israel isn’t an easy task. Yet in the past few years the momentum has been positive. More and more people – even skeptical ones – are passing through the gates of Ben-Gurion. As a result of the campaigns, Israeli tourism increased by 25% in 2017 compared with the previous year – and the total national income increased by NIS 4 b. That same line of media campaigns worked in 2018.
So far so good, but bringing in an enormous amount of tourism without grand branding strategic action is like doing only half of the work.
An immediate increase in the number of tourists is great for now – and the numbers are impressive – but for the long term, Israel needs to adopt a new approach for new stakeholders to see, hear and feel Israel.
Nation-branding and promoting core ideas needs to be delivered constantly and consistently. To boost the amount of people visiting here, we have to dedicate resources to shift the public perception. In addition to the culture, food, beaches, hotels and fun attractions we usually see promoted everywhere, the business sector and hi-tech industry should be leveraged as a great branding advantage (in higher volume).
We have reached the point that technological superiority can be used as part of a grand theme and strategy. With more than 6,000 active companies and start-ups, 1,000 entrepreneurs and developers – we can leverage that community. Messaging the great success and global contribution of the Israeli tech to all people who set foot in the land of Israel is mandatory.
There are lots of ways to push this idea throughout multiple types of channels and activities, but the first move is to set the hi-tech theme as a national differentiating branding value. Afterward, the magic will happen.
The author is a PhD candidate at the Department of Communication – University of Haifa and Communications lecturer at the Sapir Academic College.
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