Border Guard Officers on high alert at Ben Gurion Airport
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg

Tourism Ministry launches 'welcome mat offensive'

While police gear to handle hundreds 'Gaza fly-in' activists with determination, Tourism Ministry aims to make sure incoming tourists receive proper welcome

Following the near military operation-style preparations for the foreign activists "Gaza fly-in" to Ben Gurion International Airport, the Tourism Ministry announced Thursday that it was "preparing to welcome the thousands of tourists expected to arrive in Israel this weekend."


The ministry also said that the Ben Gurion Airport branch of the Tourism Ministry would be reinforced by additional employees who will welcome the tourists with flowers and explanatory pamphlets.



Discussing the measures, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said: "Ben Gurion Airport must maintain its daily routine and send a message to both tourists and the global media that Israel is a safe and advanced country and an attractive tourism destination.


"The confrontation with pro-Palestinian activists which will no doubt be accomplished in a professional manner by the security forces does not need to break the routine at Ben Gurion Airport."

Policemen preparing for 'fly-in' at Ben Gurion (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg) 


According to the minister, Ben Gurion Airport is Israel's main gateway and so "the welcome tourists receive when arriving in Israel significantly shapes their experiences and feelings during the visit."


Over 1.5 million tourists visited Israel since the beginning of 2011, a similar number to the same period last year which was a record-breaking year for Israeli tourism. The minister means to visit the international airport tomorrow to oversee the tourists' welcome.


Meanwhile the police are continuing to prepare for "operation secured space" to handle the 500 activists from 15 left wing organizations who are expected to arrive with "determination" while emphasizing the fact that these are protestors who are trying to carry out a media provocation and not terrorists.


Analysis of recent intelligence information has led police to estimate that the activists intend to reach various friction hubs throughout the country including al-Arakib in the Negev, Lod and east Jerusalem. Police are also preparing for riots that could break out at Ben Gurion Airport the moment one of the activists is detained.


Around 600 police officers are set to take part in the operation with dozens already stationed at Ben Gurion Airport.



פרסום ראשון: 07.07.11, 11:34
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