Israel Tourism Ministry Prepares to Welcome Pope Francis
The Israel Ministry of Tourism is investing approximately NIS 10 million ($2.9 million) in marketing initiatives and infrastructure projects for the visit of Pope Francis to Israel, which occurs on May 25-26. “Ž
The marketing investment is centered around the dedicated website for Catholic Pilgrimage (www.holyland-pilgrimage.org), including live streaming of the Pope’s visit and utilization of the most advanced online marketing tools, both on the web and on the various social media platforms. The marketing targets source countries for Catholic pilgrimage, such as the U.S., Brazil, Italy, Spain, Poland, Germany, and France.
In addition, last month the Tourism Ministry ran an online Instagram promotion in advance of the Papal visit, where contestants from around the world were asked to upload a 15-second video on Instagram, sharing why they wanted to visit the Holy Land. The winning video was uploaded by Gustavo Aldolfo Franco Picaza from Venezuela, and earned him a free trip to Israel.
Hundreds of journalists are expected to arrive from around the world to cover the Pope’s visit, and the Ministry of Tourism will be offering support and hosting services to them.
The Tourism Ministry, which invests in the maintenance and conservation of Christian sites on an ongoing basis, has invested tens of millions of shekels in recent years in the development and infrastructure of Christian sites, including, among others, the Yardenit baptism site on the River Jordan, the Sea of Galilee trail and promenade, Mount of Olives, Via Dolorosa, Ein Karem, and pilgrimage routes in Jerusalem, Nazareth, and more. Improvements and upgrades in the area of Rachel’s Crossing and at the Room of the Last Supper that had been planned for later in the year have been carried out in advance of the Pope’s visit.
As a result of the visit to the Holy Land by Pope Francis, the Ministry estimates an increase of tens of thousands in the numbers of Christians visiting Israel. Christian tourism, which accounts for approximately 60% of all incoming tourism, is expected to increase by about 10% in 2014 as a result of the Pope’s visit.