Tourists unfazed by exercise

The Tourism Ministry and the Home Front Command had prepared the tourism industry for Tuesday morning's emergency drill. Detailed instructions were sent to the Bureau of Incoming Tourism a week in advance, the ministry said. The instructions called to brief all Israeli tour guides about the upcoming drill, including the 90-second nationwide air raid siren. The Israel Hotel Association distributed brochures in seven languages to guests. The pamphlets explained the purpose of the exercise and informed tourists that the sirens would go off at 10 a.m. On Monday, the Tourism Ministry drilled several scenarios, including a simulated airport bombing in Kiryat Shmona. The ministry practiced dealing with "deaths" of tourists whose families would have to be notified by Israel's representatives abroad, wounded tourists who had to be evacuated to hospitals and arranging hotel rooms for tourists whose flights were canceled. The ministry stressed Tuesday that the entire exercise had been prepared in a way that was meant to avoid panicking or inconveniencing tourists. No special incidents had been reported by the end of the day's drill, the ministry said. A number of overseas visitors who spent the night in the capital told The Jerusalem Post they had been informed about the exercise in advance. "I'm staying with friends in Jerusalem and they prepared me for the siren and the drill, so it wasn't scary," said Helana Waldman, from California. "I think it is a good idea for Israel to get prepared for a situation of a war." Ruben Meidel, 24, from Germany, said friends called him on Monday night and made sure he understood it was only a drill. "I think Israel should be drilling a situation of a war or attack since it's already under attack constantly," he said. "Even though it's important to drill, it shouldn't be done too often because then people wouldn't take it seriously," added Melissa Reinsch, 24, also from Germany. "Last night, the security officer hung on my door a printed note that explained about the drill. When the siren was activated I was in the pharmacy down the street. I asked the people there if it was a safe place to be at and they said it was. Besides, with all those medications around, I felt quite safe," said Sarah Breslof, who just made aliya from the New York area.