Jerusalem, Israel - Oct. 10, 2018 - An International Tourism and Security Summit, ITSS 2018, was held at the Inbal hotel, in Jerusalem, Israel, from October 7-9. The summit covered topics dealing with tourism under the threat of terrorism and in times of crisis. The problem of terror attack has gone global and struck locations around the world.
Natural disaster and health crisis management was topic of first day keynote given by Dirk Glaesser, Director Sustainable Development Program UN World Tourism Organization -UNWTO. "Which is more dangerous," Glaseser asked, "sharks or coconuts?" Coconuts kill more people per year than sharks. Statistics presented showed risk is not the same perception. International health epidemic scares and how they were dealt with were also presented.
Only 0.000001% of travelers ever become victim of terror attack, but 37% of travelers fear and change their plans, was one statistic presented.
In December 2017, a New York State trade mission in Jerusalem was forced to cancel a visit planned by the Jerusalem Business Networking Forum to the campus of the Jerusalem College of Technology. Though the delegates who were in Israel felt safe, the Governor's office in Albany, New York, cancelled the scheduled visit to a very secure and safe location after a terror incident.
Summit delegates came from Turkey, Denmark, United States and Great Britain, and other international locations, plus Israeli local and national organizations involved with tourism and tour marketing.
Director of National Travel and Tourism Office US Dept. of Commerce, Isabel Hill, spoke on "Tourism and Security-Prevention and Promotion." Tourism industry is important to US economy, tens of millions of visitors to the US last year, provided a million jobs. Also from the US on the program was Carol Mcgury from Chicago.
In the absence of the Israeli Tourism Minister, Amir Halevi, Director General of Israeli Ministry of Tourism, gave welcoming remarks at an evening opening event.
Monday sessions, included Brigadier General (Ret) and former IDF Spokesperson Avi Bnayahu, and OECD Head of Regional Development and Tourism Division Alain Dupeyras.
It can take over two years for tourism to recover from political unrest or environmental disaster. Resilience, planning, and preparation are key to recovery all speakers agreed. Budgets must be ready to act quickly to restore images of destinations in crisis.
Justin Reid, VP of Marketing TripAdvisor, stated during his stay in Jerusalem, many asked him if he feels safe in Israel. He gave a definite positive response and claimed so do TripAdvisor’s 455 million user, “The company’s research among users show that Israel and specifically Jerusalem are both considered as safe as any other tourist destination”.
Google Engineering Manager Mor Schlesinger told the audience, the deadly Carmel Forrest fires spurred new technology in Israel for rapid crisis response to save lives around the world.
VP of Marketing Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Michael Goldsmith and Doris Danner VP Central Eastern Europe, Russia, Caucasus, Israel TBWA provided examples of crisis management on the second day of conference.
Near the conclusion of the conference, Prof. Eli Avraham of Haifa University, an expert in crisis management presented images and elaborated on repair strategies.
Dr, Eran Ketter a senior trainer and adviser in tourism marketing was at the end of the program to give concluding insights.
Former Ambassador Ido Aharoni, Israel's longest serving consul-general in New York, was appointed in September 2007 to serve as first head of brand management in Jerusalem. Ambassador Aharoni was a member of Israel’s Foreign Service from 1991 to 2016 and held three overseas position, in Los Angeles and twice in New York. He is Global Distinguished Professor at New York University’s School of International Relations in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and is the founder of Emerson Rigby, an Israel-based full-service consultancy firm and a member of the International Advisory Council of APCO Worldwide.
While most speakers spoke of international issues, Aharoni focused on Israel and its image.
Ilanit Melchior, Director of Tourism Jerusalem Developed Authority, summed up the conference, “Even though the perceptions of cities, international organizations and online tourist agents like Expedia and Google change -- they all manage similar crises. Obviously, there is a need to develop a unified toolbox that deals with short and long-term crises and contains ways to manage the crisis at real time and a month later. Tourist destinations must be proactive and if so they will be able to change the international discourse and preserve its positive image. In my opinion, we must continue holding summits and develop an online forum where we can upload information and exchange opinions between countries.”
Photo essay includes opening evening event, delegates and a variety of speakers and their presentations.