Just one day after the first suicide bombing in Eilat, 60 officials from municipalities around the world arrived in the city to participate the Tourism International Relation and Peace Initiatives Conference. The conference was opened by Tourism Ministry Director-General Nahum Itzkovich, Ian Micallef, president of the Chamber of Local Authorities of the Council of Europe Congress, and Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi. Participants were not deterred by Monday's terror attack on a bakery in the city's residential area as all participants scheduled to attend arrived with no cancellations, including representatives from regional neighbors Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan and the Palestinian Authority. In the wake of the attack, tourism officials were confident the incident would not blast Eilat's image as an attractive tourist destination and it continued to pursue its goal of bringing 1 million tourists to the city next winter season alone. Africans to feature at IMTM A record number of African countries are scheduled to participate in this year's IMTM International Mediterranean Tourism Market in Tel Aviv next week with Angola, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Mozambique sending representatives for the first time. Billed as Israel's premier tourism fair, the 13th annual event, to take place Tuesday and Wednesday, will attract representatives from 30 countries. Fattal to build hotel in Tel Aviv The Fattal Group is planning to build a new hotel in Tel Aviv after signing an agreement with SGS to lease the hotel, which will be built in the Ramat Hachayal neighborhood. Fattal said the hotel would be constructed over the next 18 months at a cost of $20 million in the business district of Kiryat Atidim. The five-star facility will be housed on a 8,500 square meter area with 170 rooms. Aviation Links to fly to Sicily Travel company Aviation Links said it would start operating weekly flights to Sicily, Italy at the end of March. The company said it sees great potential in the new line as Sicily is one of the most attractive destinations for Israelis. It will offer the flights, which will leave Tel Aviv every Wednesday, together with organized packages.Separately, the company said it has opened a Russian speaking division and has presented a catalogue in Russian to cater to the travel interests of the Russian speaking public. Continental offers copter flights into Manhattan Continental Airlines has teamed up with US Helicopter Company to offer a new service, transferring its business passengers between the center of Manhattan and Newark Liberty Airport by helicopter. The eight minute flight will operate every hour from Monday to Friday from 06:40 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tel Aviv passengers will need to transfer to gate 71 in Terminal C to board the helicopter, which will take them to Wall Street area, in the heart of the Manhattan's financial district. Continental said the service would add $159 to passengers' ticket prices. Ben and Jerry's to serve KLM Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's Israel has signed an agreement with Dutch airline KLM to supply deserts on all KLM European flights. Ben & Jerry's won a tender for the contract by which it will serve approximately 1.2 million ice cream deserts in 2007. The deal is valued at around NIS 3.5 million, B&J said. Positive outlook for aviation in '07 The aviation industry is expecting to return to profitability for the first time since 2000, Giovanni Bisignani, director-general of the International Air Transport Association said after the combined earnings of IATA member airlines improved to a $500 million loss in 2006. His comments came as the International Tourism Board outlined the key issues facing the aviation industry as it prepares for "Aviation Day" at the ITB Convention Market Trends & Innovations on March 9 in Berlin. As it expects the airline industry to continue its decade-old restructuring and cost efficiency efforts, ITB said the aviation session will explore how the market would be notably influenced by the introduction of new aircraft such as the Airbus A380, expected to start service at the end of this year, and Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and extended 747 planes. Other trends it will look at include the extent to which low-cost carriers will continue to influence commercial aviation, increasing competition between airports, the role of technology on air travel and the growth of business travel. World tourism on the rise The positive outlook for air travel is being helped along by the rise in world tourism, which set new records in 2006 and was expected to continue this year. The UN World Tourism Organization reported this week that 842 million arrivals were recorded last year, an increase of 4.5% to a new record high, adding that its latest World Tourism Barometer figures suggest that 2007 will consolidate this performance and turn into the fourth year of sustained growth. UNWTO expects the increase in international tourist arrivals for 2007 to be around 4%, in line with the forecast long-term annual growth rate of 4.1% through 2020. "As a whole, the global economy is expected to maintain last year's growth level," the organization said. "Oil prices have shown a tendency to remain less volatile and do not pose the risk to economic stability they did a year ago." It added, however, that some uncertainties remain on the global economic front that could impact tourism forecasts. Among these, increasing interest rates in some countries and regions could diminish available income and a weaker US dollar might affect foreign travel demand by Americans, it said, adding that a stronger euro could stimulate European international travel.