Today, Haim Gutin, the Israel tourism commissioner for North & South America, announced that he was stepping down after four years on the job. He released the following statement to the media:
My time as Israel's Tourism Commissioner in North and South America is coming to a close. I am sad to leave New York and the literally thousands of dear friends my family and I have made in the western hemisphere. But I am excited about returning to my Jerusalem home, and to working at the Ministry of Tourism headquarters to continue to bring the world to Israel.
2010-2014 have been years filled with significant achievements in the face of great obstacles and challenges. We have just lived through the most serious of these challenges - the month long Operation Protective Edge - that is now hopefully over and will not be repeated.
What we saw in the last four years is that despite regional turmoil and the ongoing worldwide economic crisis, travelers remained steadfast in their commitment to travel to Israel. It confirms what the Ministry has always believed - that visiting Israel is seen by many as a "must." And that there is a growing number of North Americans eager to explore our historic and holy sites, our resorts, our burgeoning culinary scene and our breathtaking natural landscapes.
The enclosed document details how we set about tackling the challenges, and overcoming them. We are gratified by the results garnered by the Ministry's North American team and its efforts to promote Israel as one of the world's most unique and diverse tourism destinations. We are excited about the future and are looking forward to the unique festivals, cultural events and hotel openings slated to take place in Israel in during the rest of 2014 and beyond.
I look forward to each and every one of your in Jerusalem.
Shalom and Lehitraot b'Karov (Hebrew for "See you again soon!)
As he prepared for departure, Gutin released several statistics on the Ministry of Tourism's accomplishments in the least year alone:
During Gutin's tenure, the Ministry of Tourism identified seven specific niche aspects of tourism to which its public relations and marketing efforts were focused, including: