Interestingly, tourist numbers in Israel were already improving before some of the ministries’ latest efforts were put into place. Since a near-decimation of its tourism industry earlier this decade, a result of ongoing violence in the Gaza Strip and stalled peace processes with its Palestinian neighbors, the country has been attracting an increasing number of tourists. Last year, a record 542,000 Americans visited the country—more than double the figure in 2002 during the height of the last intifada. But Israeli government agencies are keen to grow these numbers—and public favor—even further. ...
Israel’s Ministry of Tourism has been ramping up the PR, as well. It worked with Sports Illustrated to have the magazine’s 2008 annual swimsuit issue photographed in the Mediterranean resort town of Ceseara and on the Dead Sea coast, and worked as well with French Vogue, which dedicated two articles to Israel as a lifestyle and culture destinations in its February 2008 issue.
The tourism ministry also has been investing in more traditional marketing efforts, mostly in Europe and the U.S. For TV, Communications Plus re-cut a 30-second spot from its “Israel—you’ll love us” campaign, which ran in December. The spot, “60th Anniversary,” features a new logo—a boy flying the Israeli flag as a kite—and contrasts the youth of the nation against the country’s ancient history.
Such ads, says the Media Kitchen’s Lowenthal, “help redirect the conversation, while reaching specific target groups.”
Reaching new target groups was certainly the intent behind the most ambitious project undertaken by Israel this spring: a special 40-page supplement in British Conde Nast Traveller’s April 2008 issue dedicated solely to Israel and its 60th anniversary. Produced in conjunction with the London office of Israel’s Ministry of Tourism and poly-bagged to 85,000 magazines, the one-off supplement is “intended to expose Israel as a normal country to travelers beyond the ‘ethnic markets’ of Jews and Christian pilgrims,” explains Uzi Gafni, director of the Israel Tourist Board in London.
Adds Roberto D’Andria, cd of Bear Design in London, which develops all of Israel’s U.K. TV, print and shelter advertising: “It also provides Israel with a sense of credibility through brand association. Being linked with Conde Nast automatically gives Israel a sense of fashionability and exclusivity.”