ROME (Jan. 21)
Italy and Israel signed an agreement here this week for the joint promotion of tourism between the two countries and to each of them from North America and other areas of the world. Both countries have suffered a slump in tourism over the past year.
The agreement, signed by Israel’s Minister of Tourism Avraham Sharir and his Italian counterpart, Nicola Capria, contains a strong condemnation of terrorism. Terrorist acts in the Mediterranean area, particularly the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985, is considered responsible in large measure for the lag in tourist traffic.
The agreement provides for the tourism ministries of both countries to create vacation packages that include stop-overs in Rome and Jerusalem. The ministries will try to arrange direct flights between Milan and Tel Aviv by Alitalia and El Al, the national air lines of Italy and Israel, respectively. Sharir signed a similar agreement recently with Greece.
“Israel Weeks” will be inaugurated for Italian tourists and “Italy Weeks” for Israelis. Both countries will promote health cures based on the many thermal spas in Italy and the curative properties of the high saline waters of the Dead Sea and the hot springs at Tiberias.
Because more Israelis visit Italy than Italians visit Israel, a special inducement for the latter will be the establishment of a duty-free zone at Israel’s Red Sea resort of Eilat.
Sharir also discussed tourism with Vatican officials. They spoke at length about encouraging Christian pilgrimages to Israel and how the churches can publicize such trips. Sharir also met with regional representatives from Naples, Sorrento and Positano who expressed interest in tour packages.