There is no doubt that tourism to Israel has been dramatically
reduced since October 2000. Hundreds of thousands of tourists have
canceled their trips to Israel, forcing several hotels to close and
the local tourism industry to adapt to the new situation. But even
today, Israel a distinctive travel destination with a tremendous
emotional and religious impact on its visitors remains a unique
place to visit.
Several weeks ago I was invited by the Israeli Ministry of
Tourism to participate in a special visit for tour operators who
specialize in selling the area. The purpose of the visit was to see
some new sites that have opened during the last two years. I
experienced firsthand that, in spite of the ongoing violence, the
travel industry is holding on.
The drop in tourism offers those who visit (hundreds of
thousands of tourists visited Israel in 2001 and 2002) the
opportunity to visit new sites. Among them:
" The Wilderness Tabernacle, located on the banks of the Dead
Sea, a perfect reproduction of the Biblical Tabernacle.
" Davidson Center, located near the Western Wall and the
Southern Excavations in Jerusalem, an unusual virtual visit to the
Jerusalem of 2,000 years ago.
" The Palmach Museum in Tel Aviv, another virtual experience
where one sees, hears and feels what it was like to be a youngster
fighting for Israel’s independence in 1948.
These and other new sites that were developed before and during
the current crisis are a clear indication that the tourism industry
in Israel is alive and getting ready for the day after.
A visit to Israel always will be one that inspires strong
feelings and emotions. Today’s visitors add another layer to the
experience. Any visitor to Israel in 2003 is saying “yes” to
Israel, casting a strong vote of confidence in what it stands