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Israel Hopes Hebron Accord Will Boost Tourism to Region

Israeli tourism officials hope that last week’s signing of the Hebron agreement will boost levels of tourism hurt by terrorist bombings and a lack of progress in the peace process.

Aiming to capitalize on the goodwill generated by the signing, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority launched a tourism advertising campaign urging Americans to visit the region.

“Peace, It’s a Beautiful Sight to See,” is the ad’s slogan, scheduled to appear in the American media in the coming days.

A spokesperson with the Tourism Ministry said the campaign was Israel’s first joint initiative with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

According to ministry officials, tourist arrivals in Israel were up 29 percent during the first quarter of 1996, when compared with the same period the previous year.

But a wave of Hamas suicide bombings last February and March took their toll on tourism, with arrivals in the second half of the year dropping 19 percent from 1995 levels.

Tourism from the United States during 1996 fell 6 percent to 425,000 arrivals.

Officials hope that events scheduled to coincide with Israel’s 50th anniversary in 1998 will have a positive impact on tourism — but they add that the final totals will depend largely on Israel’s security situation.

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