Lucky No. 3,000,001

Tourism minister to greet milestone visitor at airport.

311_el al plane (photo credit: Courtesy)
311_el al plane
(photo credit: Courtesy)
This year’s 3,000,001st foreign tourist will arrive on Monday afternoon and will be met by Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov in a festive ceremony at Ben-Gurion Airport.
The ceremony will take place as the tourist disembarks from an El Al flight from Sao Paulo, Brazil.
With the arrival of tourist No. 3,000,001, the annual record for incoming tourism of 3 million visitors set in 2008 will be broken. This year is expected to end with a total of 3.4 million tourists, an increase of 700,000 tourists over 2009 and 400,000 more than in 2008. The Tourism Ministry’s target for 2011 is 4 million tourists and 5 million for 2015.
“Breaking records for incoming tourism to Israel reflects the revolution that has been taking place in the Israeli tourism industry over the last year. This revolution is making huge contributions to the Israeli economy by creating new jobs, increasing revenue and improving Israel’s image around the world as an attractive tourism destination.”
All passengers on the flight will receive a gift from the Tourism Ministry and tourist No. 3,000,001 will receive a special present from the Tourism Minister.
“The arrival of tourist number 3,000,001 is a cause for celebrations as is the arrival of every tourist who enters the country,” said Israel Hotel Association CEO Shmuel Zurel, “but we in the industry think that numbers is not the only parameter that we should be looking at. We congratulate the ministry and share in its joy at the increase in numbers, but if we are looking at things from a financial perspective, in terms of tourism’s contribution to the economy, quality is often more important that quantity.”
Zurel suggested that the government research the profile of the desired tourist – one who ideally spends a long period of time in the country and makes use of all the industry’s supply chain and target marketing campaigns for people or sectors that match the profile.
“A large portion of the increase in incoming tourists, 600,000 in 2010, is a result of the rise in day-visitors. These are people who can’t even be defined as tourists in the strict sense of the word, because they are not here for more than 24 hours,” Zurel said. “The increase in day-visitors in some cases even harms the tourism industry because they drain the resources, but don’t infuse money into the hotel industry. Thousands of day-visitors create long lines for the tourism attractions, like religious or historic sites, which may in fact chase away actual tourists.”
Zurel said that the day-visitors actually tend to aid Israel’s neighbors more than Israel itself.
“These are people who spend their money on hotels in Jordan, Egypt or Cyprus. Israel is merely their playground, not their main port of call.”