Ministry of Tourism officials are seeking to facilitate the visa process in the hope of increasing tourism to Israel. 130,000 visitors registered in Israel in January 2009. A 30% decline from January 2008, which registered 180,000, a 12% from 2007.
Israeli recently dropped visa requirements for tourists coming from Russia, but nevertheless, recent numbers show a 62% drop in visitations from that country.
Tourism Minister Ruchama Avraham-Balila explains that her office has worked to reduce the negative image of Israel that emerged from Operation Cast Lead, and her office is working in many countries to encourage tourism and to minimize the impact of the global economic crisis on the industry.
“There is no doubt that whatever government runs affairs, it will be compelled to increase the ministry’s budget by at least NIS 200 million towards promoting Israel around the world as a viable tourist option” stated the minister.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)