The Tourism Ministry plans to embark on a major campaign to draw 100,000 Russian tourists over the course of 2007 - last year saw 73,000 visitors from Russia come to Israel, so the ambitious project would require a 35 percent increase in the numbers. The Ministry's campaign will consist of advertisements in Russian magazines, Web sites and billboards in Moscow and St. Petersburg. It also intends to host delegations of Russian journalists, who will travel to Israel to write features on the country's culture, food, wine and resorts. The campaign will focus primarily on promoting Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and Eilat as prime destinations. Russia is seen as a market with vast potential, since the economy is growing at a rate of 6% per annum, coupled with the fact that 12.7 million Russians traveled abroad last year. Earlier this month, the Tourism Ministry announced it would spend $50 million a year on advertising campaigns around the world, after an Ernst & Young report suggested that every NIS 1 the ministry spent on advertising would reap NIS 9 for state coffers. And for the locals... Closer to home, the Tourism Ministry this week announced the launch of a new campaign aimed at enticing Israelis to take vacations in the Galilee region. The area's 1.5 million overnight stays in 2006 represented around 10% of the country's total, a slight drop in share for Galilee from the previous year. The NIS 125,000 campaign will stress the wide variety of activities available in the region, such as horseback riding, cycling tours and spa retreats. Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog said "the region is one of the most beautiful in the country," and is perfect for both individual and family vacations. Advertisements will appear in publications around Israel over the next five weeks, and will direct potential tourists to the Galilee's central tourism bureau. Hotel stays rise in '06 Meanwhile, figures released by the Tourism Ministry show that 2006 was another strong year for the hotel industry with some 19.3 million overnight stays recorded last year, up 1% on 2005, and close to pre-Intifada highs when 2000 saw 19.5 million overnight stays, only 200,000 more than last year. Hotel booking rates also increased, with the average booking rate at 58% against 57% in 2005. The South of the country showed the highest bookings, with a rate of 67%. Jerusalem saw an almost 10% rise in overnight stays compared with 2005, recording 2.2 million overnight stays during 2006, of whom 800,000 were Israeli tourists. However, nationwide figures for December - traditionally a popular month for tourism - were down 2% against December 2005, with 1.5 million overnight stays reported. El Al promotes trans-Atlantic flights El Al announced a $350,000 campaign to promote its trans-Atlantic routes, with a variety of deals and discounts being offered to travelers with day flights to New York are being sold for as little as $699 and night flights starting at $839. Flights to Chicago and Toronto start at $839 and while Los Angeles trips start at $999. Prices are for outgoing flights to NY from February 1 until March 14 and already are in effect for flights to Chicago, Toronto and LA also until March 14. The airline is offering vouchers worth $60 to passengers to NY as part of the campaign, which can be used in airport Duty Free shops. Party time! Each year, increasing numbers of Israelis are heading abroad to the carnivals in Venice and Rio de Janeiro. Venice's Carnival runs from February 9 to 20, while Rio's four-day Carnival begins on February 17. Gulliver's Tours are offering package deals for both events, and expect-high demand from Israelis looking to escape during the cold month of February.