The United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) will hold its annual conference in Israel in 2013 as guests of the Tourism Ministry. USTOA, which is considered the largest tourism wholesalers association in the States, includes among its members leading tourism personalities. The decision to hold the conference in Israel was taken during the February 2012 meeting between the Tourism Minister and the organization’s management during the minister’s working visit to the States. The last time USTOA held its annual conference in Israel was in 1995.
Leading figures in the tourism industry and tourism wholesalers from the States are expected to attend the conference in April 2013 in order to familiarize themselves with Israel’s tourism product and be exposed to the many visiting options available in Israel. The delegation will meet with the Tourism Minister and senior figures in the tourism and financial industries, as well as leading tourism wholesalers in Israel in order to strengthen bilateral tourism relations. Some of the leading USTOA members include Abercrombie and Kent; Adventures by Disney; Cox & Kings; Lindblad Travel and Tauck Tours. Minister of Tourism, Stas Misezhnikov: “The organization’s choice of Israel as the venue for their annual conference represents a vote of confidence in the Israeli tourism industry and in the quality of Israel’s tourism product. The massive annual marketing investment by the Tourism Ministry in the States – about 60 million NIS – continues to bear fruit.”
The Tourism Minister, who initiated the idea of the conference taking place in Israel during his meeting with USTOA leaders in February, added that strengthening tourism ties between the two countries will lead to an increase in the number of visitors to Israel while improving Israel’s image overseas. This powerful encounter between influential tourism wholesalers from the United States with Israel’s tourism product is another example of the thousands of journalists, opinion formers, celebrities and senior tourism officials from around the world who are hosted by the Israel Tourism Ministry. These visits generate positive media coverage of Israel as a tourism destination, worth hundreds of thousands of shekel.
In 2011, 600,000 tourists visited Israel from the United States, the largest source country for incoming tourism. About a third comes to Israel for pilgrimage purposes, while 24% arrive for tourism and sightseeing. The average American tourist spends 12 nights in Israel, spending about $1,800. Revenue from incoming tourism from the States reached about 4 million NIS in 2011.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)