Why Visit Israel?

Israeli flags and Jerusalem String Bridge. Fun Joel Israel Tour Guide.

Sun, Flags and the String Bridge - Jerusalem

On this Yom HaAtzmaut / Israel Independence Day, I’d like to write about something that might seem obvious to some of my readers. But it is far from obvious to all. Why visit Israel at all? Seems that as a licensed Israeli tour guide, it is something that I should think about and have an answer to.

Lucky for you, I do!

I raise the question, because yesterday I had the pleasure of being interviewed by a university student from the Netherlands who is writing her thesis on tourism in Israel. Among other things, she asked me an interesting question.

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This is Not a Political Post

Mughrabi Bridge, Jerusalem, Old City. Israel tour guide. Fun Joel Haber.

The Temporary Mughrabi Bridge in the Plaza of the Western Wall (photo courtesy of Flickr user Ariela R.)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I hate politics.

But living in Israel and working in the field of tourism, it is fairly difficult to completely avoid dealing with political issues. Nearly every visitor has heard things about the political situation and/or sees things that relate to the issue. So they will inevitably ask some questions.

And it would not be right for me to ignore these questions. So the way I handle them is to respond in as objective a manner as possible, all the while recognizing and admitting that it is actually impossible for anyone to be truly objective. I try to relate the facts as I see them, and try to keep my opinions out of things. When Israel does or has done something wrong, I admit them. But when I see lies or misrepresentations that damage Israel’s image, I will speak out against them as well.

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Israel Tourism News Roundup

Israel Ministry of Tourism logo. Tour guide. Eshkol. grapes.

Logo of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism

I’m going to try to start doing regular posts where I summarize recent news stories with relevance to the tourism industry in Israel. These might have to do with plans the Tourism Ministry is making, events or news about hotels or airlines, or anything that might affect the tour guiding business directly. If any of you come across relevant news stories that you think I might not have seen, please feel free to forward my way! Thanks! And as always, I’d love to hear any responses or opinions in the comments section.

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By the Numbers

"Light around the Bend" - Roman amphitheater at Beit Guvrin

There’s been plenty of coverage, of late, about the latest Israeli tourism numbers in 2009. And anytime there is a drop in the number of tourists from the previous year, it will be at least somewhat worrisome to people who make their living (or hope to down the road) within the industry.

At the same time, however, there seems to be a lot of good and/or hopeful news in the figures as well. That, and the fact that I am still two years away from fully depending on this industry for my income, give me reason to remain my typically optimistic self.

So let’s examine some of the numbers, as well as a number of trends and changes in the Israeli tourism industry.

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