A recent Israel tourism event in London, largely focused on the funkiness of Tel Aviv as a tourist destination and attended by some of Israel’s leading tourist-industry players, including Israel’s national airline El-Al and some of the biggest Tel Aviv hotels, raised quite a few eyebrows; to be precise, it was the contents of the goodie bag given to each guest that provided the shock value.
The advertising campaign promoted by the Israel Tourism Ministry at this event had obviously been given a helping hand from researchers who’d discovered that the Brits are a randy bunch (what, you didn’t know?). So what did they include in the goodie bag? That’s right, condoms!
Personally, I’m not offended (I’m a Brit, and, as deduced by the Israeli Tourism Ministry, that must mean I’m a randy old goat). But surely someone might have realised the British travel agents invited would include religious Jews and other more conservative types. Not everyone is as liberal and open-minded as those in the Tourism Ministry, so it seems. One travel agent summed it up nicely:
All of the British travel agents were appalled by this tasteless advertising tactic. Among the agents were many religious Jews who inquired whether this was the way that Israel was being marketed abroad.
And what is the message the Tourism Ministry is trying to convey here? That Israel is a great sex tourist destination? A new alternative to Amsterdam or Bangkok? Because trust me, sex is out there, and in some places it’s fairly easy to find, but Israel/Tel Aviv is not the new Bangkok. Just seems a bit tacky to me, especially when you’ve got some genuinely great reasons to visit Israel.
The Tourism Ministry has since apologized over this incident.