Israel has launched a new PR Programme throughout Europe to promote tourism…. Come see this… Come see that….
BUT WE WON’T SHOW YOU THIS…
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.”
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.