Israel could switch tourists from Turkey
Israel is ready to divert up to 400,000 tourists to Bulgaria from Turkey this year because of the war of words over a raid on an aid convoy, Israeli Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog said yesterday.
"With the certain souring of our relationship with Turkey, where we have 400,000 Israelis who visit every year, it's only natural that Bulgaria would be the preferred alternative," Mr Herzog, who was tourism minister before, said in Sofia. Turkey has downgraded ties with Israel since the May 31 raid by Israeli commandos on ships carrying aid to Gaza in which nine Turkish nationals were killed.
Mr Herzog encouraged Bulgaria to launch a marketing campaign to attract Israelis and added that he would discuss the issue with the tourism industry in Israel.
"We are talking of a very large population of people who are travelling," Mr Herzog said.
"Over a million Israelis travel every year abroad... they are tourists that like to spend a lot of money where they go," he added.
Mr Herzog saw "great potential" for Bulgaria to attract Israeli pensioners who, he added, were always looking for new places to visit.
"For example, they visit a lot the hot baths in Romania, in the Carpatian mountains, or they visit Greece. And what's more natural than just between Romania and Greece - to hop over to Bulgaria," he explained.