Israel launches emergency marketing campaign

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JERUSALEM -- A $285,000 emergency marketing campaign has been launched by the Israeli Tourism Ministry in conjunction with private sector tourism companies to counter the major drop off in tourism to Israel over the past year.

Negative media as a result of several terror attacks that began hitting Israel in early 1996, the change of government in May last year, plus the virtual halt in the peace process have led to a 13% drop in tourism between January and March this year, compared to the same period last year. The losses were particularly high from two of Israel's major sources of tourists: from North America, the drop was 21% and German tourism to Israel fell by 20%.

The campaign, the first of its kind, will include a direct mail campaign promoting inexpensive package tours, a massive ad blitz of lower price packages and direct marketing to overseas tour operators. Target countries for the marketing onslaught are the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Russia, Scandinavia and possibly Holland. It will be financed both by the government and private sector.

Details of the advertising are to be finalized at a meeting early this week, says Roby Harly, director of overseas operations and marketing at the ministry. However, he confirms that this campaign will be the first from Israel not to focus on image but on advertising of specific products.

"Price has always been an issue in marketing Israel," he adds, referring to the fact that Israel has never been an inexpensive tourist destination. As a result of the sharp drop in tourism, though, more economical packages are being put together and these will be heavily promoted for the first time in commercials in Israel's main tourism target markets. The campaign is slated to begin in September.

Copyright July 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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