Rosh Hashanah Campaign Launched to Spur U.S. Tourism to Israel

The Israeli Ministry of Tourism, El Al Israel Airlines and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations announced a campaign this week to encourage U.S. citizens to visit Israel during the coming Hebrew year 5749.

At a news conference here Monday, Moshe Shoshani, Israel’s North American commissioner for tourism, said the number of U.S. tourists visiting Israel was down 8 percent during the first seven months of 1988, compared with the same period in 1987.

Before the beginning of the Palestinian uprising last December, El Al, which flies about 55 percent of U.S. visitors to Israel, planned to offer 20,000 additional seats to U.S. tourists this year.

To spur U.S. Jews to visit Israel, Rabbi Joseph Sternstein, who chairs the Committee on Tourism of the Conference of Presidents, said his group is forwarding “pledge cards” to synagogues for distribution at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services in hundreds of synagogues. Sternstein is president of the Jewish National Fund.

Those who sign the card, addressed to Israeli President Chaim Herzog, pledge that they will visit Israel during 5749.

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The conference is also distributing a “Guide to Israel Tourism Resources,” which includes telephone numbers for Israel Government Tourism Offices and El Al district offices throughout the United States.

The Conference of Presidents also has set up a hot line designed to provide up-to-date information on tourism and special events in Israel.

Israel’s Tourism Ministry will begin a new U.S. advertising campaign in September, highlighting the theme “See Israel: See For Yourself.”

The advertisements are being targeted to Jewish audiences and such trade publications as “Golf Digest,” which is being asked to run an ad with the teaser, “1,000 Americans will play golf in Israel next month.”

But supporters of the campaign rejected criticism that the advertisements do not address the issue of safety for travelers.

Richard Cohen, who handles publicity for the Conference of Presidents, said the campaign would not be effective if it took a defensive posture to “convince you that it’s safe” to visit Israel.

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