NEW YORK -- Refinements to Israel's marketing campaign will build
on this year's success and will be capped by the offer to agents of
a free video of Pope John Paul II's March visit, according to the
country's tourism ministry officials here.
According to Arie Sommer, the ministry's consul and commissioner
for tourism here, part of this year's surge in travel to Israel is
due to the successful 10-day visit of the pope and the celebration
of the millennium.
Statistics support reports of a boom, with hotel rooms reporting
a 21% increase in occupancy for the first quarter of the year
compared with the same period last year.
Sommer said arrival figures for the first few months of 2000
were 33% higher than they were a year earlier, and May arrivals,
the last month for which figures are available, were up 43%.
Numbers for the summer were reported to be strong, too, and that
was supported by Isram World of Travel's president Eileen Lowe
Hart, who said her firm, which is based here and specializes in
travel to Israel, is feeling the surge.
According to official figures, tourism to Israel in 1999 broke
the previous record of 2.5 million visitors achieved in 1995.
In 1999, Israel launched a marketing campaign that called the
Holy Land the "Destination of the Millennium" due to events that
occurred there 2,000 years ago.
Israel's tourism officials are estimating a new record total of
3 million visitors in 2000.
Sommer said 260,000 are expected to come from the U.S. this
year, and the goal is to increase that to 1 million in the next two
to three years.
According to Sommer, more effort will be put into the various
Christian markets and the Jewish family celebrations of religious
In addition, he said, efforts will be made "to attract the
nearly 12 million U.S. travelers who go abroad for an extended
"In addition to history and archaeology, we will present [the
country's advances in] culture, hotels, restaurants and
infrastructure," according to Sommer.
The updated marketing campaign will be launched after the
To help market the destination, the ministry of tourism will run
co-op ads to which tour operators can add their information.
The video of the pope's millennium visit provides subtitles to
the pope's comments as he made them in heavily accented English
during Roman Catholic services at Christian sites in Bethlehem,
Jerusalem, Nazareth and at the Mount of the Beatitudes in the
Galilee, as well as during visits to Jewish sites at the Western
Wall and Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.
Israel Ministry of Tourism InfoCenter
Phone: (888) 77-ISRAEL
E-mail: [email protected]