If you are a REAL Israel supporter and you are looking for the absolute best way to show your support for Israel right now, there is one way which is by far the best way to demonstrate that support, and that is to plan a trip – preferably as soon as possible – to come over and visit.
Now let me back up a minute…. Some of you are saying “wait a minute…. YOU work in the travel industry!!! Of course YOU would say that!!!”. While I admit that business could use a boost (we’ve had a lot of cancelations due to the “situation”), I think that many would agree with me that this is a stellar method of showing solidarity for Israel.
One reason is of course that Israel’s economy is taking serious beating at the moment – especially in the tourism industry where many companies are laying their staff off or placing them on unpaid leave. Numbers of visitors in July – peak season here – were down about 25% on last year and August will be far, far worse than that. The Israel Ministry of Tourism has been screening ads on TV during the news broadcasts appealing to Israelis to step up and…. take a vacation in Israel to help out local hotels and tourism related businesses. Any FOREIGN tourist that comes here right now is seen as a veritable tzadik (righteous person).
The other reason is – if you have never been to Israel before – its simply the best way to get an idea of whats going on and why its going on. After years of watching CNN or the local nightly news, most people’s impression of Israel is that its a big desert with lots of explosions. They have no concept of how dynamic and fun Tel Aviv is, nor how breathtakingly beautiful Jerusalem is. They don’t realize the distances involved from North to South, nor the proximity of the West Bank and Gaza or the borders to the population. They have no concept of how good the food is, and they don’t realize how “at home” they will feel when they do visit.
Ah, but I hear you ask: “Isn’t it dangerous right now”? The fact is that as long as you take a few precautions, there is nothing currently inherently dangerous about travelling to Israel. Anyone that has ever been here knows that, although it is counter intuitive, Israel is actually an exceptionally safe place to visit as a tourist. Most Israeli cities – Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa – are safer than most North American or even European cities. As someone who has been bringing tourists to Israel for years, I can tell you that one of the most common responses to the question “what surprised you most about Israel”, the answer is “how safe it feels”.
(WARNING: GRATUITOUS SELF PROMOTION FOLLOWS)
If you still feel uneasy, there is a fantastic solution to that, and that is to use a private tour guide, which of course is what our company Touring Israel specializes in. Actually we also can take care of all arrangements including hotels, transfers and restaurant reservations. We really are very good (you can read some of our testimonials here).
We have even put together a special new “Geo Political” tour of Israel designed to give you a real insider’s look at the complexities of the situation in which Israel finds itself. The tour includes briefings from top journalists and senior military/security personnel, visits to “hot spots” such as Sderot, the Syrian border and the security fence, and we’ll even arrange a special meeting with Aussie Dave & Brian of London (and myself if you wish) if you book the tour and mention Israellycool. You can download the itinerary from here. The tour is on a level that even those of you that have been here many times will find it a fascinating and rewarding experience.
Anyway, self promotion aside, now more than ever, its time to visit Israel.