Agritech expected to attract 4,000 visitors from abroad

Each tourist likely to spend $1,500 on hotels, transportation, restaurants and souvenirs, according to conference's general manager.

Tel Aviv hotels 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Tel Aviv hotels 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
An estimated 4,000 tourists are expected here May 5-7 for the 17th International Agricultural Exhibition (Agritech) in Tel Aviv, a fair that is held every three years. Each tourist is likely to spend $1,500 on hotels, transportation, restaurants and souvenirs, according to Dan Meiri, general manager of the conference. The majority of them intend to spend a week in Israel, visiting Christian holy sites and other tourism destinations, including Jerusalem, Nazareth and the Kinneret, Meiri said. The tourists stay in three-, four-and five-star hotels in Tel Aviv, said Eli Gonen, president of the Israel Hotel Association. An estimated six million dollars will flow into Israel's economy from this tourism, aside from the business deals that will be closed during the exhibit, Meiri said. An estimated 60 percent of the tourists come with a group, while the other 40% come as individuals, Meiri said. They come from more than 100 countries, including India, China, South America, Latin America, Thailand, Malaysia, Africa, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Europe and the United States, according to Meiri and the Foreign Ministry. All of them work in agriculture and related fields, Meiri said. The Foreign Ministry will take care of an estimated 15 to 20 foreign government officials who are expected, a ministry representative said. About 250 agriculture and irrigation exhibitors are expected to display their wares, among them 25 international companies, Meiri said. It will be one of the largest exhibitions Israel has ever had, he said. Attendance has not been badly affected by Operation Cast Lead or the economic crisis, Meiri said. There should be only one pavilion less than in 2006, while the outdoor area used by the tractor importers is somewhat smaller, he said. Agriculture is a basic field of interest to companies and states seeking to provide more food for their population, Meiri said. Despite the large number of international visitors expected, the Tourism Ministry was not involved in the planning of the exhibition. Tourism to Israel is down by 29 percent since last year, according to the ministry. The marketing budget for Israel needs to increase by NIS 150 million, Gonen said. Right now there is no funding available because the 2009 budget has not yet been passed, he said. " If we don't have the budget right now, we are going to lose this whole year," Gonen said, adding that without a budget, next year's tourism also would be affected. Other countries, such as Turkey, Spain and Egypt, have increased their marketing budgets to bring in more tourists, he said, adding, "Every 100,000 tourists to Israel creates 4,000 jobs."