Israel’s Tourism Ministry says that the last decade did not witness the long-sought and expected “significant breakthrough” in the tourism industry – and will hold a large-scale conference next week to seek “new thinking” on the matter.

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, of the Israel Our Home party, organized the conference in an attempt to “examine some of the industry’s basic assumptions and to strengthen cooperation between all the bodies in the tourism industry.”

The last decade did not witness a significant breakthrough in the field of tourism and, consequently, new thinking is required.

One of the specific goals cited by conference participants is increasing the number of visitors to Israel by another one million by the year 2012. Currrently, some 3 million people visit Israel annually.

“Our tourism industry is not making use of its advantages,” Misezhnikov said, “relative to other countries in the region or around the world, and is not fulfilling its inherent potential for the benefit of the Israeli economy. 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.”

The conference will include all the relevant tourism industry bodies, with professional panel discussions on various topics. At the end of each panel discussion, operative recommendations will be presented and decisions will be made on how to implement them.

Among the topics to be discussed will be: Marketing and Israel’s Image Abroad, Tourism as a Springboard for Economic Growth, Impediments to Foreign Investment and Improving the Tourism Product.

The conference, which will be conducted in Hebrew, will take place on Thursday and Friday, November 5-6, in the Dan Accadia Hotel, Herzliya.

The following bodies will participate: The Federation of Israeli Tourism Organizers, Israel Small and Medium Enterprises Authority, Manufacturers Association, Israel Hotel Association, Israel Incoming Tour Operators Association, Travel Agents Association, Israel Airports Authority, El Al, Israir, Arkia, Tour Guides Association, Israel Nature and Parks Authority; Domestic Tour Operators Association; Youth Hostels Association; Jewish National Fund, Taxi Drivers Association, tour bus companies, rental car companies, a panel of foreign airlines, tourism associations, representatives of restaurants and tourism enterprises, representatives from academia, mayors, MKs and others.