Just weeks after his May 2009 appointment by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel’s Minister of Tourism, Stas Misezhnikov, has ordered a major refocusing of the Ministry’s overseas promotional efforts to place greater emphasis on Israel as the land holy to the three monotheistic religions. “What Israel needs to focus more on,” Misezhnikov recently declared, “is what other countries don’t have, or in other words: the Holy Land. Israel is holy to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and the increasing focus of the tourism ministry today is to promote Israel as such.”
Misezhnikov is petitioning his government for a virtual doubling of the Ministry of Tourism’s promotional budget, with an aim to spending close to $100 million in 2010. “I know there’s a global economic crisis but that’s exactly the reason we need the money for marketing now,” he underscores, “because when the world gets out of this crisis, not too long from now, we need to be ready so we don’t miss the train.
Tourism to Israel in 2008 broke the all-time record, with more Americans, and more international visitors coming to Israel than ever before. “And while tourism in many countries is suffering with decreases of 30, 40, 50 percent this year because of the recession,” commented Arie Sommer, Israel Tourism Commissioner, North and South America, “2009 tourism in Israel is down just 13% – a result that is deeply encouraging for the long-term health of Israel’s tourism industry.”