NEW YORK -- At the ASTA World Congress in Los Angeles, Israel
presented awards to individuals and organizations that were
instrumental in the development of Israel's tourism industry,
according to its Ministry of Tourism office here.
Tourism to the Holy Land did not receive much attention until
the late 1950s, according to Arie Sommer, commissioner for tourism
in North America. When efforts to attract visitors finally were
launched, "it was from America that mass tourism to Israel first
began," he said.
According to the Deputy Prime Minister of Israel and Minister of
Tourism Moshe Katsav, "Israel's unique contribution to the world of
tourism ... will be even more apparent in the coming months, as the
Christian world prepares to celebrate the beginning of the third
Marking the country's 50th anniversary, ministry representatives
presented 90 awards to Americans, Canadians and Israelis at a gala
dinner. "It enables us to say 'thank you,' " said Sommer, to those
"whose dedication, creativity and commitment to my country have
made such a difference."
Awards were presented by master of ceremonies and veteran actor,
Joe Campanella; director general of the Israel Ministry of Tourism
Shabtai Shay, and singer Pat Boone, Israel's unofficial "Christian
Corporate recipients included Air Canada, El Al Israel Airlines,
TWA, the Dan Hotels Corp. and Sheraton Hotels.
Honored tour operators included, among others: Ayelet Tours in
Albany, N.Y.; Consolidated Tours of Atlanta; Friendship
International Tours, based in Woodland Hills, Calif.; House of
Travel of Northfield, Ill.; Inspirational Tours in Houston; Israel
Discovery Tours, Skokie, Ill.; Israel Tour Connection, Livingston,
N.J.; Isram World of Travel in New York; Mosaic Tours & Travel,
Miami; Regina Tours in Chardon, Ohio; Sabra Tours International in
Baltimore; Tal Tours in Valley Stream, N.Y., and Miami-based
Individuals also were honored.
In the hotel industry they included: Haim Ariel, director of
marketing/sales, North America, in the New York office, for the
Dans of Israel, and Ellen Oppenheim, marketing director in New York
for Radisson Moriah Hotels.
Honored travel professionals included: Richard Day, founder of
Unitours in Greenwich, Conn.; A. Ady Gelber, president and chief
executive officer of Isram World of Travel in New York; Igal Hami,
president and chief executive officer of Gil Travel Tours in
Philadelphia, and Christopher Hinn, cofounder of Mighty Eagle
Travel and Tours in Winter Park, Fla.
Also, Dani Pipano, president and owner of Gate 1 in Glenside,
Pa.; James Ridgway, president of Educational Travel Services in
Lakeland, Fla.; David and Meir Weingarten, founder and manager,
respectively, of Ariel Tours in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Amram Zur, a
former ministry commissioner for North America and currently
president of AZ Travel Associated in New York.
Media personalities who were honored included Rev. John Hagee,
president and chief executive officer of Global Evangelism
Television, and Pat Robertson, religious broadcaster and founder of
the Christian Broadcasting Network.
In addition, an individual award was given to Morris Nachtomi,
chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Tower Air, and
several honors went to nonprofit Jewish organizations that have