Tourism poster for Israel
Tourism poster for IsraelIsrael news photo: courtesy of Israel Ministr

Jerusalem chef Michael Katz is cooking and serving Israeli food and a special "Kabbalat Shabbat" for visitors to Israel's booth at the world's largest tourism fair for Spanish speakers.

The fair, FITUR, opened officially Wednesday by the King and Queen of Spain, has attracted more than 10,000 exhibitors from 170 nations.

At least 220,000 visitors are expected to show up to sample the wares and explore the options for touring around the planet, including 125,000 professionals from the travel trade.

At the 2011 fair, the Israeli exhibit won the award for the best stand, beating out 200 countries. Last year some 50,000 tourists from Spain and 15,000 from Portugal visited the Jewish State, most for the purpose of pilgrimage, spending an average $1,025 per day for about eight nights.

Led by the Tourism Ministry, Israel's booth this year measures 380 square meters and will exhibit 30 Israeli tourism companies, among them hotel chains, airlines, incoming tour operators, entrepreneurs and more.

Marketing Administration director Oren Drori is on site to meet with the agents, airlines and tour operators from the Spanish and Portuguese market, as well as the media. Drori's primary aim is to encourage tourism to Israel and increase collaboration between the companies.

Representatives from the Ahava and Premier firms will hand out samples of their Dead Sea products to visitors at the stand. Chief Michael Katz, who graces Jerusalem's White, Colony and Red restaurants with his services, will make daily presentations of uniquely Israeli foods.

In addition, a musical and modern Kabbalat Shabbat (welcoming of the Sabbath ceremony) will be held, with Middle Eastern musical instruments and collaboration from the audience.