Destinations

Israel is going big — billboard big — to attract Christian tourists

@denschaal

Feb 21, 2013 11:30 am

Skift Take

Call it “old school,” but Israel’s tourism officials are betting that highway billboards will spur Christian tourists to visit holy sites in Israel.

— Dennis Schaal

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 / Israel Ministry of Tourism

The Sea of Galilee is a popular tourism destination for Christians visiting Israel. / Israel Ministry of Tourism


With tourism numbers from North America down, the Israel Ministry of Tourism has big plans — a billboard campaign along U.S. highways — to attract Christian tourists.

Billboards depicting two popular Christian tourist spots, the Sea of Galilee and the Old City of Jerusalem, have been plastered up along highways around Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Tampa, and New York City.

The tagline is: “Visit Israel. You’ll never be the same.”

Israel, of course, is considered holy by at least three major religions, namely Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

Here are images of the two billboards:

Screen Shot 2013-02-21 at 11.46.26 AM

Screen Shot 2013-02-21 at 12.19.10 PM
The ministry is spending about $260,000, or 20% of the nearly $1.3 million campaign budget on the billboards, according to the spokesperson. The 8-week advertising blitz also includes digital, print and direct-mail components. The spokesperson adds:

“The idea of the marketing campaign is to create awareness in people‚Äôs mind about traveling to Israel. The billboards are located on main routes where you can also find mega churches. Traditionally we do TV, radio, online and print for the Christian campaign, and we thought billboards are refreshing.

With the war in Gaza in November impacting visitor numbers, Israel’s tourism from North America, with Christian travelers usually making up half of the tourist ranks, fell 3% to 690,000 in 2012, according to the Ministry.

The billboards are intended to be “massive” reminders to Christians of the allures of Israel as a tourism destination, and now the Ministry awaits to see if the masses will respond, and visit.

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