Israel Still the Leader in Middle East Sales

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RCA Winner Logo Nobody can deny the appeal of Israel to the true traveler—thousands of years of history, a mecca of multi-culturalism, and a spiritual icon that embraces all three of the world’s greatest religions. So its consistent history

of being named Best Selling Destination in the Middle East in our annual Readers’ Choice Awards isn’t much of a surprise.

But none of the aforementioned attractions seem to explain why Israel is the Sexiest Romance/Honeymoon Destination in the Middle East, especially when Israel tourism itself doesn’t even promote it as such, although plans are on the drawing board to do so.

“We work hard to portray Israel’s attributes as a sophisticated and romantic travel destination, by highlighting the country’s various facets that make it a leading goal for world travelers looking for a ‘true vacation,’” explains Sharon Katzav, director, Northeast Region, Israel Ministry of Tourism. “We have not, as of yet, mounted a specific honeymoon campaign, but it is under consideration.”

Of course, maybe it is all three of those major incentives to travel to Israel that makes it such a draw to newlyweds and lovers. It’s hard not to think of Israel’s sacred icons and fabulous history as being anything other than romantic and spiritual—all emotions that spring to mind when traveling with your true love.

But for everybody else—at least in North America—Israel continues to be the big guy in the bucket list that travelers are dipping into at a consistently increasing rate. “From January through October 2011, more than 550,000 visitors from North America arrived in Israel, which is roughly on par with the same periods over the last few years,” Katzav says. “So, we are looking ahead at another strong year for travel to Israel.”

To gain those kinds of numbers, Katzav points out, “We have continued our outreach to the North American travel audience through traditional public relations and advertising campaigns, in addition to significantly increasing our work in the fields of social media.”

Which is all well and good, but the Israel Ministry of Tourism has also been one of the most aggressive of international destination tourism entities to cater to, educate and promote its attractions to the travel agent community. Its overall marketing efforts, in fact, are wedded intrinsically into the travel trade distribution channel and making it aware of all of Israel’s myriad travel niche attractions.

“In 2012, we will expand our outreach to the North American travel trade, with a whole series of regional travel agent seminars throughout the U.S. and Canada,” Katzav says. “We are always looking at new and creative ways to encourage mainstream and return travel to Israel, while greatly increasing niche-market travel to Israel, including religious travel, adventure and sports travel, medical tourism and multi-generational and family travel.”

But the way to do it in the most efficient way possible is, of course, through an in-depth, multi-channel education program—available on—that offers a multitude of information on selling tips, niche product attractions and a whole lot more.

“Our travel agent education program continues to be a very important part of our work in increasing awareness of Israel as a 21st century destination for the sophisticated traveler, keeping pace with such other high-profile international destinations as Ireland, Spain, Morocco and beyond,” Katzav emphasizes. “We greatly value our partnership with agents and are working hard to ensure that they have the most up-to-date tools and information about the latest offerings in Israel to sell the destination to their clients.”