A Vote of Confidence

Ronen Paldi, President, Ya'lla Tours USA 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

By: Ronen Paldi, President, Ya'lla Tours USA

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 for.

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