Black Meetings and Tourism

November/December 2014

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Page 34 of 52

B M & T ••• November/December 2014 ••• 34 E arlier this year, Israel's Tourism Commissioner Haim Gutin, North & South America, and Uzi Landau, Israel's Minister of Tourism, were in Los Angeles to promote a tourism film on the Holy Land called, Israel: The Royal Tour and to announce that their country recently set an all-time record for tourism to Israel. Gutin revealed that in 2013, Israel, which celebrated its 65 Years of Independence, had 3.54 million visitors from around the world. The U.S. is the number one source of tourism to Israel (20% of tourists to Israel come from North America) followed by R u s s i a , F r a n c e , G e r m a n y and the U.K. About 700,- 000 North Ame-rican visitors were from the United States. Neither Gutin nor Landau was sure what percentage of that number were African-Americans. Landau called the U.S., "the most important source of visitors who come to visit." He added it was because of "the freedom of reli- gion and speech that is shared by Israel and the U.S." The tourism industry contributed about $11.4 billion into the Israeli economy last year, according to the Tourism Ministry. "Some of the visitors came for mystical reasons, some for religious reason and some just to find inner truth," said Landau. As well as the country is doing with tourism and even though they hit a record last year, both Gutin and Landau, who was appointed Israel Minister of Tourism in March 2 0 1 3 , insist their country has higher goals. B o t h Gutin and Landau said the plan is to increase the number of visitors to Israel by 200,000 this year and to increase the volume of visitors by one million in 2017. "Part of our goal is ISRAEL OFFICIALS IN US TO PROMOTE TOURISM BY DARLENE DONLOE HAIM GUTIN UZI LANDAU Continued on page 34

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