NEW YORK (Dec. 11)
One million tourists to Israel is the goal that the Ministry of Tourism has set for 1976, Tourism Minister Moshe Kol declared today. But he told a press conference at the St. Regis Hotel that “we will not achieve this goal without doubling tourism from the United States.”
Kol said that this year, in which Israel expects to register a total of 650,000 visitors, tourism was up from all other parts of the world but was down from the U.S. There were only 200,000 visitors from the U.S. in 1975, Kol said. He noted that the peak year for American tourists was 1972 when 280,000 visited Israel. That year was also a record year for overall tourism with 726,000 visitors, a mark Kol hopes to break next year.
However, Kol, who has visited 10 American cities on behalf of Israel Bonds and to meet with travel agents, said that since the “shameful” anti-Israel resolutions were adopted by the UN there has been a tremendous response by American Jews in buying Israel Bonds and in deciding to visit Israel.
“I am very impressed with the reactions of Jewish communities in the United States,” he said. “They feel that they are being attacked personally, not only Israel.” Kol said he hoped that Christians who oppose the anti-Zionist resolution will also visit Israel as an expression of solidarity with the Jewish State.
Kol said Christian tourism to Israel, which accounts for 40 percent of the tourists, has also picked up this year partly because many persons-visiting Rome for the Catholic Holy Year have also gone to Israel. He said he expects at least 15,000 Christian pilgrims to come to Israel for Christmas.
In addition to the regular tourists, Kol noted that 135,000 to 140,000 Arabs from every Arab country will have visited Israel this year. He said he supports the “open bridge” policy because he believes the Arabs who come to Israel will see the real Israel, not the propaganda they are fed, Kol said he has always supported open tourism throughout the Middle East as a way to achieve peace. “If the Egyptian Minister of Tourism will recommend the holy places in Israel, I will recommend the pyramids,” he said.