Tourism Minister Aharonovich in New York to promote Israel's biggest ever NIS 165 million tourism marketing campaign.
By NATHAN BURSTEIN
Following an unusually suspenseful few days last week, members of Israel's tourism industry collectively enjoyed a restful weekend, relieved in the knowledge that the Histadrut Labor Federation's brief strike ended near dawn Thursday without upending what's been a flourishing summer travel season.
Having avoided a chaos-causing shutdown at Ben-Gurion Airport, the industry has returned to business mostly as usual, though it's also looking forward to extra hotel stays logged this week thanks to the romantic Tu Be'av holiday.
Tourism Minister creates new alliances in New York
The threat of a strike at Ben-Gurion didn't keep Tourism Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich or his deputy, ministry director-general Shaul Zemach, at home in the days leading up to the threatened shutdown. The two were in New York last week to promote the Tourism Ministry's latest - and biggest ever - marketing campaign, an NIS 165 million effort kicking off in New York, southern Florida and southern California.
Targeted at the whole of North America, the campaign will last through December and has received a budget 15 percent larger than the ministry's marketing efforts for 2006.
As part of their trip, Aharonovich and Zemach met with representatives of American Express and Grand Circle Travel, who will promote travel packages to Israel beginning in the coming year. The decision by the two companies to work with Israel represented an "important expression of faith" in the country, Zemach said, and required reciprocal efforts by Israel's government to "justify that faith with a meaningful and extended investment in the tourism sector."
Meanwhile, back at home...
The Tourism Ministry's investments committed gave its support last Monday to "infrastructure" projects in the Negev and Galilee, recommending the allocation of NIS 40 million for the construction of tourist accommodations in Tiberias and Mitzpe Ramon and to upgrade existing guest facilities on the Kinneret and near Eilat.
The proposal has yet to receive final authorization from the top levels of the ministry, but if approved would be part of a total effort of NIS 250m. to improve tourism offerings in the two regions.
Enjoys sailing, dinners by candlelight
Just in time for Tu Be'av, Aladdin Travel has released a survey of the activities and destinations considered most romantic by Israeli travelers. The poll, conducted by an independent research group among a sample 529 participants, shows Israelis most want to share a sailing trip with their significant others (40.2 percent of respondents).
Neck and neck in second and third place were a walk at sunset (17.8%) and a candlelit dinner at a restaurant (17.5%). 7.7% felt that not leaving their hotel rooms was the most romantic possible activity, while 7.4% felt they could best express their love via shared scuba diving trips and other outdoor adventures.
The Caribbean islands proved the most popular destination for a romantic getaway (23.7%), followed by Paris (21.8%) and Venice (16.6%.) Just under four percent of respondents felt their home country was the most intimate place to be, with Jerusalem earning three times as many votes as Tel Aviv as the country's most romantic city.
A seaworthy discount
Aladdin Travel isn't the only company aware of Israelis' liking for boat trips. The Gulliver travel agency is offering $50 discounts on trips on the cruise ship Magic 1 for customers booking vacation packages through the end of August. The discounted trips aboard the Magic 1 will take place between September 16 and 23, and shipboard space is, naturally, limited.
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