The Israel Ministry of Tourism has added a new section to its North American Web site, designed to address travelers' concerns about the current situation in the Middle East. The new section is offered to visitors immediately as they enter the site. "We've instituted this service," says Arie Sommer, Israel Commissioner for Tourism, North America, "because travelers are obviously concerned, and we want them to be able to obtain credible and useful information so they will be able to make educated choices and plan their trip responsibly."
The "headlines" section of the site is subdivided into further sections, including "Facing Facts," "What's Happening Where?," "How Do State Department Advisories Affect Me?" and one which answers traveler-specific questions: "So what should I do?" The site will be updated regularly as events warrant.Some 2.5 million people will visit Israel in 2000. "The government of Israel takes enormous precautions to protect its citizens and its visitors," commented Sommer, "and if we thought travelers were in danger, we would ask them not to come or we would urge them to delay their visit."
The Israel Ministry of Tourism Web site can be found at: www.goisrael.com.
Ring the Bell
I always liked Laromme Hotel in Jerusalem: its large pool was the perfect place to meet friends on hot summer days; its wedding area, with views of the Old City, was picture-perfect; and its lobby buzzed with much the same air of casual intensity as that of its nearby rival, the King David.
Laromme is still around, but it is undergoing renovations and a name change. After the hotel's management contract with El Al came to an end, the management team had to pick a new name. Their choice, Inbal Jerusalem Hotel, reflects the fact that the luxury hostelry sits beside Liberty Bell Park. Inbal is Hebrew for "clapper," as in the clapper of a bell (in Hebrew the term is poetry; in English just prose).
The hotel's 1,000-person convention facilities will be expanded, new carpets will grace all 278 rooms, 16 suites and corridors, the award-winning restaurant will be redecorated and the pool will be upgraded. Omri Korngold, the hotel's general manager, is certain the hotel will continue to attract tourists looking for luxury and convenience. Among some of its more notable overnighters: President Bill Clinton, who helped the hotel break the King David's monopoly on hosting foreign dignitaries when he stayed there during one Middle East visit.
Travel briefs by Editor Rob Eshman.