The Israeli Tourism Ministry’s efforts to reach Christian tourists has again gone digital with the launch of a new Youtube channel featuring trip testimonials and information on holy sites. The channel, entitled the Spirit of the Holy Land, was announced on Monday in a Tourism Ministry press release. The videos come in a variety of languages ranging from English to Japanese and join the Tourism Ministry’s Catholic-focused channel “Holyland Pilgrimage.”
Said Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov in the press release, “Incoming Christian tourism, in all its denominations, represents the main target market in which the Tourism Ministry focuses its marketing effort in order to increase incoming tourism. This new website will help transmit messages and the special spiritual significance of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.”
The press release said the new channel includes trip testimonials from pastors, religious leaders and tourists on the “spiritual experience of their visit,” in addition to information on religious sites and events.
Thousands of hits have been recorded on the new site in recent months during its running-in period, with the Tourism Ministry saying hits were coming even before the channel was promoted.
The press release said the Youtube channel is “designed to arouse interest amongst Christians around the world, challenge them to visit Israel and increase Christian tourism traffic to Israel.”
Dead Sea Falls Short
In other Tourism news, the Dead Sea came up short in the bid to be named one of the new seven natural wonders of the world by the New7Wonders of Nature competition. The contest ended last Friday, and according to the New7Wonders website, the preliminary results did not place any Middle East sites among the seven winners.
The statement from the New7Wonders competition did note that the results are provisional and based on an initial vote count, with further verification still forthcoming. Technically one of the winners may not be confirmed in the validation process between now and early 2012, when the winners will be ceremonially honored.
The winners were the Amazon (multiple South American nations), Halong Bay (Viet Nam), Iguazu Falls (Argentina, Brazil), Jeju Island (Korea, south), Komodo (Indonesia), Puerto Princesa Underground River (Philippines), and Table Mountain (South Africa).
Founder-President of New7Wonders Bernard Weber was quoted by the website as saying, “I would like to thank the many champions, citizens, voluntary organizations, public bodies and governments that have helped promote the New7Wonders of Nature campaign over the past four years, starting with over 440 locations from over 220 countries and all the way to the 28 Finalist candidates from whom the New7Wonders of Nature have been chosen.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, November 15, 2011)