Photo: AP
Bikini. Censored (Illustration photo)
Photo: AP
Israel's 'modesty' cabinet
Tourism Ministry removes images of partly dressed women in ad campaigns promoting tourism so as not to offend orthodox sentiments in cabinet

What looks wonderful in the British press and on the streets of London and Manchester is not suitable for Shas party ministers sitting in the Israeli government. This is apparently what someone in the Tourism Ministry thought when the ministry's presentation, set to be part of Sunday's weekly cabinet session, was censored.


The session was set at the request of Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog in wake of the crisis in the tourist industry following the Lebanon war. A drop of 30-40 percent in incoming tourism was recorded in 2006. According to ministry forecasts prior to the war, some 2.6 million tourists were expected to visit Israel during the current year.


The drastic drop in incoming tourism following the war has had far reaching implications on tourist industry employees and on the State's revenues from tourism.


Herzog is spearheading, along with the ministry's Director-General Nahum Aizikovitch and other industry members, a drive whereby USD 150 million will be designated to marketing Israel to the world throughout 2007 – 2009 (USD 50 million dollars a year).


At the same time, the minister is seeking to invest large sums of money in tourist infrastructure, and promotional grants for building new hotels and upgrading existing ones.


Attractive campaign

During the discussions, a presentation of the marketing campaign being run by the Tourism Ministry throughout Europe and North America since September will be shown to cabinet ministers. The campaign includes billboards, TV commercials, press ads, internet ads and radio broadcasts.


One of the most attractive campaigns is being run in Britain showing a Latvian model photographed in a bikini in Eilat, the Dead Sea and in Tel Aviv. The photo taken on the Tel Aviv beach includes a tagline reading: The 24 hour Mediterranean city, Tel Aviv.


It was reported that the Tourist Ministry decided to remove the photograph of the partly dressed woman in the Tel Aviv ad so as not to offend those present at the cabinet meeting, but particularly in respect of orthodox sentiments.


In addition, images of young girls running on the Tel Aviv beach were also censored.


The Tourism Ministry said in response Saturday that the "British campaign has been running for quite some time. The Tourism Ministry chose to present the cabinet an ad that is being run in Turkey and the US and as an example of a marketing campaign aimed at taking Israel out of the slump in the tourist industry."


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