Saturday, February 22, 2014

Israel as a tourist destination

Cafe Mezzada, Tel Aviv, 18 Feb 2013

One of the ramifications of the ingrained anti-Israel atmosphere in the UK in the last few years has been what amounts to effectively a boycott of Israel as a tourist destination. At times this takes the form of genuine political intervention such as the ban imposed by the Advertising Standards Authority on allowing Jerusalem to be included in any advertising of Israel holidays; even when the main-stream Travel Agencies do include Israel in their holidays and cruises they refer to 'the Holy Land' and not Israel by name.

But mostly the 'boycott' is due to simple prejudice and ignorance. For example, the average British person assumes Israel is far too dangerous a place to visit (I go 5 or 6 times a year and every time people - including Jewish friends - find it incredulous) - yet will think nothing of going to Egypt (and other Arab and Muslim countries) where terrorism and violence against tourists has been a much greater threat for years. And those Brits who avoid Israel on 'ethical' grounds flood to Muslim countries (Egypt, Turkey, Dubai etc) which are among the worst human rights abusers in the world. Of course, while negative stories about Israel dominate the British news, the far greater problems in Muslim countries go unreported; even major terrorist attacks in Egypt (such as last week's suicide bombing of a Korean tourist bus in near Taba) failed to make the main British news.  This explains why, even a year after the Egyptian Sinai became a genuine war zone, there are still dozens of flights to Sharm el Sheikh from the UK every day. In stark contrast there has not been a single direct flight to Eilat from the UK for the last 3 years. British tourists who pour into places like Sharm (5.5 hours flight) and Dubai (6.5 hours flight) for winter sunshine breaks are completely unaware that there is equally hot winter sun in Eilat (4.5 hours when there were direct flights).

So, after all that, it is nice to report that Britain's most popular daily newspaper the Sun has today finally featured Israel in its weekly travel section (albeit after about 800 consecutive weeks in which both Sharm el Sheikh and Dubai have been featured). And it's a good report too (you can just about read it all if you click on it).

Sun Travel Section, 22 Feb 2014

And, since I just arrived back myself, I thought for a change I would post some pictures:

Bograshov Beach: The sign says “I’m a beach not a giant ashtray – OK?”
 Bograshov Beach

“Apartheid” Israel: an elderly Arab couple are given special care at Ben Gurion airport
 Shuk Ha-Carmel

 Hilton Beach
 Sunset over the Marina Tel Aviv

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