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Israel Cabinet Ministries: Ministry of Tourism

24 King George St.
P.O. Box 1018
91009 Jerusalem
Tel. (02) 6754811/2
Fax (02) 6250890

Functions and Structure

The Ministry of Tourism is charged with developing and fostering the tourism industry in Israel. Tourism is an export industry, whose economic importance lies not only in its major contribution to the balance of payments, but also in its being a magnet for large and ever-increasing investments. The tourism industry is the direct employer of 60,000 breadwinners throughout the country and is a tool for regional development and population dispersal. Tourism is also an effective, credible, and direct means of disseminating favorable information about Israel: every tourist who comes to Israel gains a better understanding of the country's position, difficulties, and accomplishments.

Tourism serves as a bridge for peace and the best link with Diaspora Jewry, whose visits here reinforce their bonds with Israel. Tourism is also sometimes the first step toward aliya - immigration to Israel.

The Ministry of Tourism is active both in Israel and abroad. Activities abroad fall into two categories, both handled by the Ministry's tourism offices. The Tourism Marketing Department focuses on identifying new markets and market sectors and on fostering relations with travel agents, airlines, Jewish and Christian organizations, and other agencies active in the field. The other category, information activities, handled by the Tourism Promotion Department, involves public relations, publicity, and advertising to create the right atmosphere for encouraging tourism to Israel. These activities are carried out via publicity and advertising in the trade press and mass media.

Domestic activities fall into four categories:

  1. Developing physical infrastructure - both accommodations (hotels, youth hostels, etc.) and regional (promenades, tourist attractions, marinas, and so forth). This activity is directed by the Ministry's economic unit, through its subsidiary companies: the Tourist Enterprises Development Company (Tourism Bank), the Government Tourist Corporation, and the Government Spas Authority.

  2. Developing a manpower infrastructure for tourism professions, under the guidance of the Tourism Services Department, through its training subsidiaries: the Tourism School (tour guides, travel agents, and escorts for overseas groups), and the Tadmor Hotel School for hotel workers (chiefly waiters, cooks, receptionists, and administrative and housekeeping personnel). These activities are guided by the Tourism Services Department of the Ministry.

  3. Developing services and events for incoming tourists, so as to ensure an appropriate level of reasonably priced services for foreign tourists in Israel. This is accomplished through a system of accommodations at appropriate ratings, recommended stores and restaurants, authorized travel agents, events throughout the year and throughout the country, aimed at making the tourist's stay here more pleasant. These activities are directed by the Tourism Services Department.

  4. Developing domestic tourism. Despite the focus on overseas tourism, the Ministry also develops domestic tourism by various sectors of the population, in coordination with local associations, under the guidance of the Ministry's Tourism Services Department.

The Tourism Marketing Department supervises the activities of Israel Government Tourist Offices overseas, promotes international conventions, pilgrimage tours, Jewish, youth, and student tourism, etc. The Ministry operates 18 tourist offices abroad - in Europe (9), North America (7), South Africa (1), and Cairo (1) - and has branch offices run by local personnel (Madrid, Hamburg, Vienna, etc.). The Department also runs seminars for travel agents, clergymen, and rabbis, tourism evenings for the general public, participates in tourism fairs, functions as a center for activities to encourage tourism overseas by the entire tourism industry, and maintains a publicity, public relations, and marketing network throughout the world.

The Israel Tourism Services Department licenses various tourist services, including hotels, restaurants, travel agents, tour guides, shops, etc.; monitors tourist service quality; maintains tourist bureaus throughout Israel; promotes purchases of local products and arranges tourist discounts and exemptions; promotes events geared to make tourists' stay in Israel pleasant; trains hotel and tourism professionals; and prepares and implements emergency arrangements for tourists. The Department also works through its four regions (Haifa/North, Tel Aviv/Central, Jerusalem, Beersheva/South) and supervises its subsidiary personnel training corporations.

The Planning and Economics Department coordinates and manages the Ministry's current and development budgets; coordinates statistical and marketing data and research; encourages tourism investments (loans to tourist enterprises, land allocation, recommendations for granting "Approved Enterprise" status in accordance with the Law for the Encouragement of Capital Investments); and computerization to handle Ministry needs in Israel and abroad. The Department also supervises the Ministry's development corporations.

The Tourism Promotion Department promotes and enhances Israel's image as a tourist destination, developing and fostering ties with the media in Israel and abroad, and runs fact-finding tours for journalists and other influential persons.

The Articles Service sends articles on Israeli tourism to the press and mass media throughout the world.

The Tourism Information Center provides material in Hebrew and foreign languages. A domestic information service promotes tourism awareness among Israelis and publishes position papers, information surveys, and information pamphlets on a regular basis for use by the Ministry and the tourism industry in Israel and abroad.

Sources: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs