At the expo
At the expo Kobi Gideon/GPO

Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Tuesday participated in the 28th International Mediterranean Tourism Market.

The expo is being held this year on 29-30 March, with the participation of over fifty countries around the world. It is geared towards tourism industry professionals (including domestic and foreign tourism), foreign tourism officials, and the general public.

Attending the expo are tourism ministers from several countries, including Bahrain, Italy, and Lithuania, and ambassadors from states such as Brazil, the Philippines, and Kazakhstan. Also participating in the ceremony and speaking were Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov (Yesh Atid), Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, Israel Hotel Association President Avi Nissenkorn, and outgoing Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir HaLevy.

President Herzog began his remarks by saying: “Dear friends, Michal and I are delighted to join you at the International Mediterranean Tourism Market and to finally welcome—in person!—dignitaries and tourism operators from across the region and beyond. I welcome as well my Israeli friends from our diverse tourism industry, those who I was fortunate to meet in my previous capacities.”

“The economic value of tourism is immense and cannot be overstated. For example in 2019, we had 4.5 million tourists in Israel, over 140,000 people employed in this industry, and billions of dollars coming into our economy.”

“It is therefore crucial that the State of Israel takes all necessary steps to reinvigorate tourism, and take it to new heights, even beyond pre-pandemic levels. I know that this is feasible and possible, because Israel offers a truly unmatched experience of ancient holy sites, cities that never sleep, exquisite natural beauty, a mosaic of cultures, and an innovative society. I am certain we will be seeing new forms of tourism focusing on climate innovation and sustainable development; and, as Israel becomes a regional focal point, I am sure the new Abraham Accords will bring many new tourists coming for a regional experience, Muslim tourists and so forth.”

The President emphasized: “I know that the last two years have been devastating to the industry. I know that each of you has faced and struggled with problems and tumult and uncertainty. But I also know that the Israeli tourism community is resilient, creative, hardworking, professional and I have real faith in this sector, I am therefore absolutely optimistic.”

President Herzog continued: “I would like to take this opportunity to bid farewell to a good friend, to Amir HaLevy, who recently concluded nine remarkable years as Director General of Israel’s Tourism Ministry, and we are indebted to you for your impressive public service. Amir, not only did you play a central role in bringing record-breaking numbers of tourists to Israel. You also managed to successfully operate alongside five different Ministers of Tourism—and that is truly an accomplishment!”

Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov said: “This conference is an expression of the new regional reality based on the promotion of the peace and prosperity of all states and peoples in the Middle East. I am proud and moved to say again: Israel is open to tourism. Come and visit our beautiful country.”

Outgoing Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir HaLevy: “We had incredible years, years of wars and military operations, years of unbelievable records in incoming tourism, almost five million with the new marketing strategy, huge international events and unfortunately also the pandemic, which hit the industry. I learned from you to be hopelessly positive and optimistic, because this is the only way to do it.”