Tourism experts to gather in capital

Organizers say Palestinian calls for boycott had no effect.

311_Stas Meseznikov (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
311_Stas Meseznikov
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
Jerusalem is gearing up to host a tourism conference that organizers say is the first such event of its kind in Israel, set to bring dozens of tourism experts from around the world for discussions, debates, and ample networking.
The International Tourism Jerusalem Conference 2011 is scheduled March 29-31 at Jerusalem’s International Conference Center (Binyanei Ha’uma), and is being organized by the Jerusalem Municipality, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Jerusalem Development Authority, and the Tourism Ministry.
Over 20 speakers are scheduled to appear at the conference, including Chris Matthews of MSNBC; Mexico Tourism Minister Gloria Guevara; Sean Kell, senior vice president & general manager, global online & customer marketing for Expedia, Robert Rosenschein, Founder, chairman and CEO of; Thomas Campbell, director, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and William Roedy, founder, MTV Networks International.
Panels at the conference will cover a wide range of topics, including the economic impact of tourism and sustainable development, “branding” cities, and the role of the media in generating tourism, to name a few.
In February, Palestinian Tourism Minister Hulud Deibas sent a letter to the governments of all 30 countries invited to take part in the conference, calling on them to boycott it.
In her letter, Deibas said “the dispatch of official representatives constitutes recognition of occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
Ilanit Melchior, director of tourism at the Jerusalem Development Authority, denied Monday that there has been any sort of push to boycott the Jerusalem conference even though only one of the 30 countries is sending its tourism minister, saying “we don’t feel that there is any sort of boycott going on; there haven’t been any people who said they wouldn’t come because of any sort of boycott against Israel.”
Melchior said that while a lot of those who were invited could not attend, it was solely because of scheduling conflicts, largely because invitations were sent out on relatively short notice.
Melchior said she hopes that the conference will be a success and will become an annual event in Jerusalem.
When asked why it is being held in the holy city, she replied “because Jerusalem is the tourism anchor of Israel and a place that billions of people around the word dream of visiting someday.”