Jewish Tourism from U.S. Waning

There is a definite and downward trend in Jewish tourism figures from the United States to Israel over the past two years, a senior Israeli official revealed Wednesday. Amnon Altman, head of the government’s Tourism Authority, put part of the blame on American Jewish organizations which, he said, were “not stressing Israel as a tourism destination” for their members.

Nor were the major Jewish organizations holding a sufficient or satisfactory number of their assemblies and conferences in Israel, Altman asserted. He said there were some exceptions, but overall he could say that these organizations seemed not to attach enough “consciousness” to the need to encourage American Jews to visit Israel.

In addition, Altman said, Jewish tourism from the U.S. to Israel suffered from the general current decline in Israel’s public standing in the U.S. “I am not breaking any new ground by pointing this out,” Altman told reporters. “It has been widely reported in our own press. ” Israel’s political image problems were directly linked to the tourism statistics, he said.

A third important factor was economic, Altman observed. American tourism to Europe (general tourism) was down because of general economic reasons — and Jewish tourism to Israel was bound to be affected in the same way.

The statistics show that Jewish tourism accounts for 55 percent of the total volume of American tourism to Israel. But the rate of decline these past two years has been marked and steady, Altman said. Israel for its part would instruct its tourism officials in the U.S. to redouble their efforts to “sell” Israel packages, he said.

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