EL AL plane 1 248 88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Visits to Israel are up significantly this year - and so, fittingly, are visits to its main tourism-related Web site. The Tourism Ministry reports that it received 200,000 hits on its Internet site, www.goisrael.com, last month, a 100 percent increase over the same month the previous year.
Tourism itself was up 86 percent in September over the parallel period in 2006, suggesting there's a connection between those doing the online and in-person visits.
The Tourism Ministry is taking steps to further increase traffic on its Web site, announcing that it's added a French version in recent days and is now working on translations in Spanish, Portuguese and Korean. An Italian version is also expected to go online soon.
The new languages weren't randomly selected, of course, and reflect the Tourism Ministry's ongoing efforts to attract religious pilgrims from the Iberian peninsula, South America and South Korea.
The ministry reports that Christian sites are among the most frequently researched topics on the Web site, which has also recorded longer visits and more page views by Internet surfers in recent months.
Overall, the Tourism Ministry expects 2.5 million visits to visit goisrael.com http://goisrael.com this year, up from 1.5 million last year. (Actual visits to the country are expected to number 2.41 million in 2007.)
Among both virtual and in-the-flesh visitors, Americans lead the world, paying 34 percent of all visits to the Web site. Israelis land in second place with 20 percent of the online visits, followed by Russians, the English and Canadians.
The Web site also records visits logged by people unlikely to visit Israel, including roughly 1,000 Iranians each month. Some 43 hits from Afghanistan were logged in September, the ministry reports.
The Web site has so far focused on North American and European Web users, and until now has offered information in Hebrew, English, Russian, German, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish.
Retirees remain active travelers
A new survey conducted by MarketWatch reveals that half of Israel's senior citizens travel on a regular basis. The country's population of seniors - defined as residents 65 and older - numbers 676,000, and is considered a particularly desirable demographic because of its added leisure time and resources for activities like travel.
Senior citizens represent 15 percent of travelers in the country - a number that includes both Israeli and foreign retirees.
According to the MarketWatch poll, conducted among 404 seniors between the ages of 65 and 85, 58 percent of senior citizens believe the country's tourist sites offer sufficient access and accommodations for older travelers.
Senior citizens are the target of a new promotional campaign to be launched next month by the Tourism Ministry, the Israel Hotel Association and other tourism groups to encourage visits to Jerusalem.
El AL to fly Olympic athletes to Beijing
Israel's fashionistas can breathe a sigh of relief: their athletes tracksuits are going to match their plane.
The country's elite athletes will fly to next summer's Beijing Olympics on El Al, the airline and the Olympic Committee announced last week, meaning both Israel's representatives and their plane will "sport" a Star of David as they land in China.
As part of the arrangement, El Al will fly Israel's Olympic delegation - 80 competitors, coaches, sports therapists, and so on - to Beijing, along with their equipment. In the intervening period, the airline will add the Olympic symbol to all 36 of its planes, with the familiar interlocking rings adding a few additional colors to the company's blue and white.