Israel: Questions and Answers

Arie Sommer discusses travel to Israel with Reed Travel Features' Israel editor, Shuly Kustanowitz.

TW: What are the market segments that are drawn most to Israel?

Sommer: Israel is an extraordinary destination for explorers, ecology buffs, historians, food- and wine-lovers and adventure travelers, not to mention those in search of a unique and dazzling Mediterranean vacation. Israel's centrality as the birthplace of Judaism and Christianity and as a holy place of Islam is what makes it one of the most fascinating and yearned-for destinations on the planet.

TW: Whom should agents expect to be interested in visiting Israel in the near future?

Sommer: Christians, Jews, families, singles, convention attendees and second-time visitors are all groups that are likely to come to Israel in increasing numbers.

In the short term, we expect a larger-than-usual number of both Jewish and Christian Americans to come to Israel this year to join us in celebrating our 50th anniversary.

In 2000, we expect perhaps as many as 4 million Christians to come to Israel specifically to be in the land where Jesus and Christianity were born two

millennia ago.

TW: What do you see as the greatest accomplishment in the area of tourism in Israel's first five decades?

Sommer: There have been many, but one stands out above the rest: For the first time in the history of this land, all the holy places of all the religions who consider this land sacred are open to all who wish to visit or to worship. This is a first, and we Israelis are very proud of this accomplishment. In historic terms, keeping religious sites open to everyone is our greatest accomplishment.

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Contact one of these regional Israel government tourist offices:

Chicago (midwest region): (312) 782-4306, fax (312) 782-1243.

Dallas (southern region): (972) 991-9097; fax (972) 392-3521.

Los Angeles (western region): (213) 658-7462; fax (213) 658-6543.

New York (Ministry of Tourism North America): (212) 499-5650; IGLOO Northeast Region, (212) 499-5660; fax (212) 499-5655.

Toronto (Canada): (416) 964-3784 or (800) 669-2369; fax (416) 964-2420.

Or agents can call the Travel Information Center of the Israel Ministry of Tourism: (212) 499-5660, (800) 514-1188, fax (212) 499-5665.

Travelers can call (888) 77-ISRAEL.; [email protected] or

[email protected]

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