Israel has launched a new PR Programme throughout Europe to promote tourism…. Come see this… Come see that….


Putting Israel on the map

By Avi Lerer

It’s not easy taking a country which appears on the news worldwide in negative contexts and turning it into an attractive tourist destination, but this is exactly what the Israeli Tourism Ministry is attempting to do. Here is a peek behind the scenes of the campaigns marketing Israel across the world

Imagine this: You’re sitting on the couch in your rural cottage in one of England’s greener districts. Your cup of tea is cooling on the table as you browse through your favorite magazine, like you do every Sunday, when you suddenly catch sight of a colorful ad: A girl in a swimsuit and straw hat floating on sky blue water.

“It takes six hours to cross Israel. Imagine what you can experience in seven days,” the ad says.

At the bottom you see details of what such a trip would include: Three days in Tel Aviv and Jaffa, one day in Jerusalem, one day in the Sea of Galilee and two days in “the lowest point on earth – the Dead Sea.”

Tourism Ministry officials hope that these ads will cause millions of Americans, Britons, Germans, French and Russians to seriously consider visiting Israel. Marketing such a country, which stars on foreign news mainly in negative contexts, is quite a big challenge. In the past, images of Eilat’s sun and beaches were enough to attract masses of pale tourists, but today the audience is more sophisticated – as is the marketing.

Israel as a product

Oren Drori, the Tourism Ministry’s senior deputy director-general and head of marketing, says that first of all one must understand that the ministry’s defined goal is to bring tourists into the State of Israel for economic reasons.

It is enough to say that the output from incoming tourism in 2007 was estimated at NIS 12.5 billion (about $3.46 billion). That year, 2.3 million tourists visited Israel – 25% more than in 2006 and a rise of 20% compared to 2007. The target for 2012 is at least 5 million tourists in one year. How does one do that? Again, marketing is the key word.

“The Tourism Ministry is no different than any marketing company marketing a product,” Drori explains, “although our product is slightly more complicated in terms of the product and the target audiences.”

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The Tourism Ministry takes its work seriously.

“Our job is scientifically backed up. It is based on market research and scientific analysis and mapping work conducted by external elements – research companies, advertising and public relations firms, etc. In most cases, the companies are local, as they have an advantage of being familiar with the local market.”

With the product being tourism in Israel, the first stage is to define the audience. The Tourism Ministry’s budgets are limited, and therefore it works from a defined strategy of priorities according to target audiences, according to countries and inside the countries. The first stage is to select the target countries.

“We focus on countries from where there is actual traffic and potential traffic, and in which there are audiences which we know – based on studies – are likely to consume us,” Drori says.


  1. Gewyne said,

    April 13, 2008 at 18:18

    Mainstream TV in the UK was promoting Tel Aviv as a weekend destination for people this year, one such programme was an hour long and had four destinations being shown at prime time for people looking to get away this year.

  2. Matt Giwer said,

    April 13, 2008 at 18:22

    Two corrections here. Jerusalem is not in Israel. The Dead Sea is not in Israel.

  3. Gewyne said,

    April 13, 2008 at 23:49

    Google Earth says that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and by the time the two state solution is real then the Dead sea will be in israel as well.

  4. Robin said,

    April 14, 2008 at 05:23

    The UK didn’t like the ad for Israel in six hours whatsoever. In fact, it was removed.This is what they did

    ASA Adjudications
    Israel Government Tourist Office t/a
    UK House
    180 Oxford Street
    W1D 1NN

    Number of complaints: 1
    Date: 9 April 2008
    Media: Magazine
    Sector: Holidays and travel

    A magazine ad, for a website promoting holidays in Israel. The images depicted well-known landmarks, including Qumran on the Dead Sea; text stated “YOU CAN TRAVEL THE ENTIRE LENGTH OF ISRAEL IN 6 HOURS imagine what you can experience in 7 days VISIT THINKISRAEL.COM NOW FOR MORE 4, 7 & 10 DAY ITINERARIES IN ISRAEL”.

    The complainant objected that the ad was misleading, because it gave the impression that Qumran was in the state of Israel when in fact it was in the occupied West Bank. She pointed out that the status of the occupied territories and the borders of Israel were the subject of considerable international controversy and that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised against travel to the Occupied Territories.
    The CAP Code: 7.1;2.6

    Response did not respond to our enquiries.

    The ASA was concerned by ThinkIsrael.coms lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code clause 2.6 (Non-response). We reminded them of their obligations under the Code and told them to respond promptly in future.

    We noted the ad promoted a website that made clear that tourists could visit Qumran as part of the itineraries offered. We considered, however, that the image of Qumran, in conjunction with the claim “YOU CAN TRAVEL THE ENTIRE LENGTH OF ISRAEL IN 6 HOURS …” implied that Qumran was in the state of Israel. We noted Qumran was in the occupied West Bank, not the state of Israel, and considered that the ad was therefore misleading.

    The ad breached CAP Code clauses 2.6 (Non-response) and 7.1 (Truthfulness).

    We told to withdraw the ad. We asked CAP to advise its members of the problem with them.

    AH! Israel didn’t respond. SURPRISE SURPRISE, respond to such peons? Never. But the peons removed the ad!

  5. April 14, 2008 at 09:12

    It is good news that the Goyim and Jews have woken up against the Zionists at least where Europe is concerned. That ad was a piece of lying propaganda which does not accurately show anything, least of which does anything but dress up the violence over there with a pink ribbon & bow.

    Perhaps there is hope after all of stopping the deceitful Israel, preventing further holocausts, punishing the crooks in the catholic church and then dealing with the Zionists of the false messiah who created such events.

  6. April 14, 2008 at 15:47

    Five thousand years ago they had it for a while and then they lost it. This time they got it and like before they will loose it again. Moses (PUH) condemned them not for nothing.

  7. April 15, 2008 at 00:12

    Nonsense. Don’t feign history. The Israelis and Palestinians were promised a return to that land at a designated date, which means yes, they are all “God’s people” at the time God had planned for them.

    What was wrong to begin with was the Israelis did not pay heed, they followed a false messiah known as Shabatai Tsvi re-incarnated and decided all the land was for them and them alone. They then lied and made everyone else support this lie.

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