Turkish tourist sites will have to make do with tourists from Europe this summer. Israeli workers will take their custom to Cyprus and Greece, if the intentions of workers' committees are fulfilled.
Vaadim, a firm coordinating information about economic activity among workers' committees in Israel, published a statement saying that after the wave of anti-Israel propaganda led by Turkey and Turkey's rapprochement with Iran, together with its dominant role in the "Freedom Flotilla" to Gaza, workers' committees have declared that workers will not go to Turkey for their vacations – "not even for free."
Vaadim CEO Yaakov Alush said to Ynet that, as head of the firm, he recommends finding alternatives more moral and no less appealing than Turkey.
"Not even for free." Did they really say that?
"This came from the chairman of the workers' committee at the First International Bank, Yona Goldschlager, the chairman of the Negev Nuclear Research Center, Shalom Shlomo, the rail workers' committee, and many others. They said, 'We don't intend to take our workers to Turkey – not even for free'."
And indeed, says Alush, this is also the position of the workers' committees of Egged, El Al, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Haifa University, Bank Leumi, Clalit Health Services, Tel Aviv Municipality, the Agricultural Ministry, Tnuva, Paz, Ashdod refineries, Israel Post, the Ministry of Housing and Construction, Menora Mivtachim and many more.
"Despite an aggressive PR campaign, advertising, and deals of $99 per person, Turkey didn't manage to repeat its previous success, which reached a peak in 2008 with over a million Israeli visitors," Alush said.
"So far in 2010, only a few dozen thousand Israelis have gone to Turkey. The committees flexed their muscles and used their influence throughout last year, including during Passover, and didn't take workers to Turkey. They also avoided doing so in the summer. This is more than a million workers."
What alternatives are there to Turkey's all-inclusive deals?
"A tourism fair will be held for the committees in July, and many alternatives will be offered. Greek Cyprus and the Greek islands are the most likely."
It sounds like political tourism. Aren't there any deals to Armenia?
"Unfortunately, tourism there is not developed, but it's worth thinking about that for the future."
Turkey: Israeli tourism recovering
The Turkish Tourism Bureau in Israel said that since the beginning of the year there has been an 18% increase in the number of tourists from Israel, compared to the same period last year. "We hope this trend will continue during the summer months. Moreover, we don't usually mix politics and tourism."
Alush does not accept this claim. He rejected this approach and attacked Rani Rahav, the Israeli PR giant currently handling Turkish PR.
"How can you separate politics and tourism when they spit in your nation's face, and meet and support Hamas and Iran murderers? I find it hard to understand the motives of any office in actively supporting the economy of any anti-Israel state," he said.
"I think that he (Rahav) is making a mistake; you don't necessarily accept every business deal. It hurts the image he tried to create for his office as patriotic, as if Israel was important to him."
Rani Rahav responded to these accusations.
"Israel is important to me, Israel is in my heart, and because of this the tourist connection with Turkey is especially important to me," he said. "Politics should stay in Ankara and Jerusalem and the special connection between the Turkish and Israeli nations needs to be maintained – and the proof is the rise in Turkish tourism to Israel (from the beginning of the year till now, compared with the same period of 2009)."
Is a tourism boycott a fair way of criticizing a government?
"Even the Turkish nation wouldn't continue with its regular daily life if Israel violated its sovereignty with provocative acts off its shores," Alush replied.