Reaching new heights


In his report on Israel’s performance in 2013, Haim Gutin, Israel Tourism Commissioner, North and South America, observes that, “2013 was a year filled with great achievements in the face of great obstacles and challenges.””

But, he continues, in spite of “regional turmoil and the ongoing worldwide economic crisis, travellers remained steadfast in their commitment to travel to Israel.”

And that, Gutin points out, “confirms what the Ministry has always believed — that visiting Israel is seen by many as a ‘must.’ And there is a growing number of North Americans eager to explore our historic and holy sites, our resorts, our burgeoning culinary scene and our breathtaking natural landscapes.”

As for the travel industry, Gutin notes that there have certainly been changes as more and more travel agents are now home-based — a change that the Ministry has been accommodating. As well, he said, “We are developing strategies to reach the next and younger generation in the Christian evangelical market. And, as always, we have the on-going geo-political challenges in promoting Israel and persistent budgetary issues.”

He continued, “Taking these challenges into consideration, in 2013 the Ministry of Tourism in North and South America created a variety of marketing, public relations, advertising and social media strategies designed to maintain the momentum and the gradual increase in tourism experienced over the past few years.”

Those programs have certainly shown results with North American tourism to Israel reaching new all-time highs in 2013 with the arrival of 3.54 million visitors from around the world including 630,000 travellers from the United States, 72,000 from Canada, and growing numbers from Latin America.

Said Gutin, “We are gratified by the results garnered by the Ministry’s North American team and its efforts to promote Israel as one of the world’s most unique and diverse tourism destinations. We are excited about the future and are looking forward to the unique festivals, cultural events and hotel openings slated to take place in Israel in 2014 and beyond.”