The first guest, Martha Stewart, 70, is a media personality with a business empire marketing a variety of home-improvement products and the publisher of cook books and lifestyle magazines. Yedioth Ahronoth has learned that she is scheduled to visit Israel in early September.
The Tourism Ministry office in New York is now in talks with Oprah Winfrey, who hosted one the highest-rated talk show in history until recently, in a bid to have her visit Israel in the coming winter.
The Foreign and Tourism ministries have been trying for years to bring Winfrey and Stewart, who are each capable of influencing millions of Americans, to Israel. Almost every new book recommended on Winfrey's show has turned into a best-seller. Products recommended by Stewart on her shows enjoy immediate success as well.
Israeli officials believe that if the two are impressed by Israel, they'll be followed by masses of tourists.
Improving Israel's image
Stewart is slated to attend a private event in Israel, to which she has been invited by close friends. The Tourism Ministry is holding talks with her representatives in order to convince her to arrive with a camera crew and shoot an episode for one of her shows.
Sources in the Tourism Ministry said that if the talks succeed, the ministry would help pay for the production costs of the program, which will focus on Israel's tourist sites and high-quality food.
If the plan is indeed implemented, Stewart will be filmed visiting tourist sites such as the Western Wall and the Dead Sea. She may also meet with leading Israeli officials, including President Shimon Peres, and famous chefs who will cook gourmet meals for her using Israeli-made products.
The negotiations for the two women's visits are being held by a special Tourism Ministry unit.
"Such moves are a wise way of taking advantage of opportunities and significantly contributing to efforts to boost Israel's image as an attractive tourism destination," Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov told Yedioth Ahronoth on Monday. "The Tourism Ministry will continue initiating such moves in the future."
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