BONN (Jul. 13)
The improved relations between Bonn and Jerusalem is considered responsible for the steady increase of West German tourism to Israel which had slumped in recent years.
According to Eli Noy, director of the Israel Government Tourist Office in Frankfurt, German tourists travelling to Israel this year will exceed the fewer than 110,000 who visited Israel last year, though they are not expected to reach the record 160,000 of 1980.
A recentsurveyof leading travel agents found that Israel ranked llth among the 20 most popular German tourist destinations, up from 18th a year ago. Noy said that trend was reflected in the increased number of persons seeking information from his office. He predicted that bookings on flights to Israel will soon exceed capacity.
GERMANY LEADS IN TOURISM FROM EUROPE
West Germany sent more tourists to Israel from 1977 through 1981 than any other European country although there are only 30,000 Jews in Germany compared to more than a half million each in Britain and France. But in 1981 and 1982 West Germany’s relations with Israel soured.
The then Chancellor Helmut Schmidt demonstratively refused to accept a standing invitation to visit Israel, first offered in 1975. Israel objected strongly to Bonn’s Middle East policy which it considered pro-Arab and Premier Menachem Begin unleashed a bitter personal attack on Schmidt during the 1981 Knesset election campaign.
The war in Lebanon last summer added to the ill feelings and triggered an anti-Israel campaign in West Germany with anti-Semitic overtones. But the situation has since changed. The new Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, will visit Israel at the end of August.
A major publicity campaign is promoting tourism to Israel and several leading newspapers have run feature stories on that country’s tourist attractions. German tour operators are once again including Israel in their 1983 offerings.
There are presently 24 flights a week from West Germany to Israel representing some 3,500 seats. Lufthansa, the German air line, operates daily flights and El Al operates six days a week. As of July, nonstop charter flights to Israel will be introduced in Hamburg in addition to the regular flights from Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart, Cologne and Duesseldorf.