Names make it tough to tell interests apart

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NEW YORK -- Same-sounding business names are compounding the confusion for Americans dealing with tourism to Israel.

Confusion, perhaps, is only to be expected by Americans dealing with a part of the world where written language goes from right to left, numbers go from left to right and the three major Western religions claim the same holy sites.

Tourism professionals also are having a tough time with English-speaking clients who are interested in learning a few words of the language of the Bible. Having so many similar-sounding business names in English operating in the same marketplace compounds the confusion.

For example, for Jewish families enjoying a mazal tov, two different tour operators, both based in Livingston, N.J., specialize in family trips to celebrate a bar/bat mitzvah coming-of-age ceremony in the Holy Land.

Israel Tour Connection, which always worked through agents, offers 17 departures this year.

Israel Tours & Travel, sometimes known as "the two ladies from Livingston," decided two years ago to deal with agents after 28 years of retailing.

Hotels are mixing identities, too.

Israel Hotel Representatives in New York represents the Dans of Israel Hotels and Resorts there, a chain of eight deluxe properties in all of the country's major cities.

Israel Hotels Reservation Center in Closter, N.J., however, represents that country's Isrotel hotels chain, most of which are located in Eilat, in addition to other hotels and some car rental firms.

The Royal Plaza Israel Hotels & Resorts, based in Jerusalem but with representation here, is a new chain of "nearly deluxe" properties around the Holy Land.

But what has always been known in Jerusalem as the deluxe Plaza hotel a few years ago became a Sheraton.

One point of confusion may be eliminated.

Heavenly International Tours is a 14-year-old Milwaukee-based company that specializes in Christian travel to Israel, other Mediterranean-rim countries and Africa.

Heavenly Tours was founded three years ago in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., and runs Catholic pilgrimages to the Holy Land and other European holy sites.

Next year, however, Heavenly Tours' brochures will identify the firm as Heavenly Journeys, and that may help lessen the confusion.

Israel Tour Connection

Phone: (888) 2-ISRAEL or (973) 535-2575

Israel Tours & Travel

Phone: (800) 326-ITAS or (201) 992-5073/2679

Israel Hotel Representatives

Phone: (800) 223-7773/4 or (212) 752-6120

Israel Hotels Reservation Center

Phone: (800) 552-0141 or (201) 750-2050

The Royal Plaza Israel Hotels & Resorts

Phone: (800) 538-4683 or (718) 338-6537

ITT Sheraton

Phone: (800) 334-8484

Heavenly International Tours

Phone: (800) 432-8361 or (414) 352-8622

Heavenly Tours

Phone: (800) 723-4111 or (949) 487-9494

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