Though the start of my course was delayed a few weeks, we are supposed to have our first orientation/classes this Friday, December 11. One of the things people always bring up is how this can be a difficult profession, due to its operating largely at the whims of the tourism industry. And that industry naturally has its ups and downs.
Still, I try to remain hopeful, and look out for positive signs.
This recent article seems to indicate that the current Minister of Tourism, Stas Misezhnikov, is at least trying to improve matters. The article quotes him as saying:
The last decade did not witness a significant breakthrough in the field of tourism and, consequently, new thinking is required, on the part of all the relevant bodies, to examine the basic assumptions of the industry in order to implement them in the Tourism Ministry’s multi-year work plan.
To that end, the Ministry has organized a conference to discuss ways to meet their stated goal of increasing the annual number of visitors to Israel from 3 million to 4 million by the year 2012.
Another seemingly good sign (particularly for a Jerusalem-based tourguide, as I may likely be) is this article. The Ministry will invest an additional 15 million shekels into Jerusalem’s tourism infrastructure next year!
“Jerusalem is Israel’s central tourism brand, representing the main attraction and focus for most incoming tourists,” Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said in the announcement. “In order to meet our goal of an additional million tourists within three years, we will invest in this important brand over the next few years in order to make it attractive for new markets internationally and for the Israeli visitor.”
I have no idea if Miseznikov’s ideas will work, nor if his policies will be good for Israeli tourism. But at the very least I think this indicates that he’s taking his job seriously. And he recognizes both how central tourism is to Israel’s economy, and potentially what needs to be improved in the Israeli tourism industry.
I just hope he succeeds. I’d love to tap into that larger pool of potential customers when I get out of my program!