Economy and Tourism
- Written by Diplomacy
The embassy of Panama in Israel and Polaris Company hosted these days a special cultural tourism event, hoping to tighten the tourism relations between the two countries and encourage tourism traffic from Israel to Panama 8th, 2013 in Tel Aviv
At the event, Panama City and Tel Aviv pronounced Sister Cities, and a special dress (Pollera) embroidered with pearls and diamonds was presented. One of the most expensive dresses in the world, the Pollera is Panama’s traditional garb, presented mostly at special celebrations
The embassy of Panama in Israel and Polaris Company host these daysa special cultural tourism event in Tel Aviv hoping to tighten the tourism relations between the two countries and reveal Panama’s wonderful tourist attractions. Among the participants in the colorful upbeat traditional Panama cocktail party were Panama’s ambassador in Israel, Hector Aparicio, head of the marketing administration at the Panama Tourism Authority and senior officials in both countries’ tourism industries.
As part of the event, Tel Aviv and Panama were pronounced Sister Cities. Additionally, a special dress (a Pollera - Panama’s traditional garb) embroidered with diamonds and pearls and valued at tens of thousands of dollars, making it one of the world’s most expensive dresses, was presented at the event. The Pollera dress takes roughly one year to make. Its glorious history dating all the way back to the 16th century, today, the Pollera is only used on special celebratory occasions.
Located in Central America, The Republic of Panama borders on the Caribbean to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the south, Colombia to the east and Costa Rica to the west. Its territory is approximately 78,000 square kilometers and it is home to approximately 3.6 million residents. The name Panama means "abundance of fish and butterflies". Ethnically, most of the country’s citizens are of mixed origins: the most predominant group is “Mestizos” – people whose ancestors were both European and Amerindian, counting 69% of the population. Most of the population is catholic (roughly 80%). The climate in Panama is tropical and hospitable all year round. There are 7 autonomous communities of indigenous Amerindian peoples in Panama, all living an authentic lifestyle.
Panama offers a huge variety of scenery: sandy, white Caribbean beaches dotted with palm trees; tropical rain forests, cold, high mountaintops; enormous swamps and dormant volcanoes. Over 25% of Panama’s territory is dedicated to national parks and nature reserves, home to over 1,000 species of birds, 220 species of mammals and over 10,000 different species of vegetation. Panama offers about 2,000 islands and beautiful, exotic beaches. A visit to the beaches to the west and east of Panama would provide an opportunity to see sea turtles in large numbers. Considered one of the world’s richest places in birds, Panama is blessed with hundreds of species of colorful, beautiful avian creatures. Adjacent to Panama’s beaches are hundreds of islands. The main two groups of islands are San Blas and Bocas del Toro, a stunningly beautiful archipelago in the Caribbean with amazing coral reefs, home to a large variety of fish. Additionally, visitors can observe dolphins on the open ocean and tour the Beach of Red Frogs. An autonomous district run by the Kuna tribe, San Blas is a cluster of 400 tiny, picturesque islands that look as if they were taken straight out of a postcard. Living mostly on fishing, the members of the Kuna tribe travel between the islands in narrow canoes. Surprisingly, the locals have successfully preserved their economy, language, customs and culture. It is an ideal place for swimming in the midst of shawls of tiny silver fish, with dozens of brown albatrosses soaring above and diving into the water.
Other good diving, snorkeling and deep water fishing options are available at the beaches of the Pacific, near the islands of Coiba and Pearl. Here, one can go kayaking in stormy waters, visit national parks teeming with wildlife, go snorkeling in the Caribbean and swimming in the Pacific.
The capital of Panama, Panama City, is a cosmopolitan city filled with skyscrapers that resembles New York from afar. The city boasts a large variety of national museums and a rich history. The 5.25 billion dollar Panama Canal expansion project is due to be completed next year – 100 years after the opening of the first canal. 33.5 meters wide, the canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and is one of the largest and most difficult engineering challenges in world history. The canal’s construction has had a great effect on travel between the two oceans. 4% of all the world’s goods pass through the canal, making it Panama’s main source of income. Over 14,000 ships sail through the canal each year.
Another exotic tourist attraction is Golfo de Chiriqui: a bay enclosing beautiful islands, surrounded by beaches, hot springs and fertile valleys. Most of the area has been pronounced a nature reserve and it offers plenty of options for diving, surfing, bird watching and fishing. Most of Panama’s eastern region is taken up by the Darien district; its virginal rainforests pronounced a biosphere reserve and a world asset by UNESCO.
Photo Silvia Golan
Photo Silvia Golan
- Written by Israel Tourism Ministry
Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau: “I attach great importance to the hotel grading system as a step that will promote transparency and create a unified standard; we must aspire to a situation in which every hotel tariff reflects the standard of operation. We are at the starting line, in the future the statndard of service will also be investigated for the benefit of the guest and the industry itself.”
The Tourism Ministry announces the publication today (Thursday) of a new tender for selecting the service provider for rating hotels in Israel according to the Hotelstars system. This is in accordance with the commitment taken by the ministry at the Finance Committee meeting in the Knesset three weeks ago, following the cancelation of the earlier tender because no single proposal met the threshold criteria. The tender, which was published in the media, is also available on the ministry website.
The difference in the threshold criteria between this tender and the last is in the removal of the requirement for experience in managing a hotel rating project of at least 100 hotels according to the Hotelstars system, and instead the tender requires the company and project manager to have experience in hotel rating and experience in at least one project using the Hotelstars system.
Three weeks ago, the Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevi said in a discussion on hotel ranking in the Knesset Finance Committee that the ministry was determined to implement the hotel rankings scheme in Israel and that the ministry would complete its investigations and discussions related to updating the tender and changing the threshold conditions and would publish a new tender. Within a few months, a company would be chosen to start the hotel ranking at the beginning of 2014.
The ranking of hotels is included in the tourism services regulations that were approved by the Knesset Finance Committee and published on 3.1.2013. The regulations will come into effect on 3.9.2013 and rankings issued to hotels under the old regulations will expire in September 2014.
According to the regulations, the body that will implement the rankings and will be appointed by the minister, will have experience with ranking hotels according to the defined method, ie the European Hotelstars system. The Tourism Ministry published a public tender to select the relevant body and four bids were submitted. Following discussions and investigations, a sub-committee of the Tenders Committee and thereafter the Tenders Committee itself ruled that none of the bids met with the threshold requirements and therefore the tender was canceled.
Further to the arrival in their new positions of the tourism minister, Dr. Uzi Landau and the D-G Amir Halevi, further internal discussions and investigations took place. The minister even held a round-table discussion led by and with the participation of the D-G and senior tourism ministry representatives. Also present were leading figures in the tourism industry as well as representatives from other consumer bodies, in order to listen to their opinion related to hotel ranking in general and the Hotelstars system in particular.
After the meeting, the Tourism Ministry representatives held an internal meeting in which the Tourism Minister decided to move forward with the tender using the Hotelstars system, which is accepted throughout Europe and familiar to European tourists who visit Israel.
- Written by Israel Tourism Ministry
3% INCREASE IN VISITOR ENTRIES IN JUNE 2013 VS JUNE 2012
VISITOR ENTRIES JAN-JUNE: 1% INCREASE ON FIRST HALF OF 2012 – RECORD LEVEL FOR THIS PERIOD IN THE YEAR
TOURISM MINISTER DR.UZI LANDAU: "For the last few months, there has been an increase in incoming tourism in comparison to figures from last year. The Tourism Ministry views tourism as an essential engine for economic growth that creates new jobs in the periphery. We will continue our work in growing the number of visitors to Israel and realizing the tourism potemtial.”
- Written by USA Embassy
Between October 31 and November 1, 2013, thousands of international investors, domestic businesses, government officials, and trade organizations will descend upon Washington DC for the first-everSelectUSA Investment Summit. This summit is a first-of-its-kind, national-level engagement intended to connect businesses and investors from around the world with U.S. economic development organizations at the state, regional, and local levels. The SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit is being hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce as part of a U.S. government-wide initiative to promote direct investment in the United States. Participants will benefit from unique networking opportunities; one-on-one meetings; moderated panels; discussions on the latest information on all aspects of investment; and, available resources in the U.S.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro praised this unique opportunity, saying that “Israeli investors have contributed significantly to the American economy, contributing to make the U.S. the most attractive destination for investment… I strongly encourage all potential Israeli investors to consider attending this prestigious event.”
“The SelectUSA initiative is an integral part of the Obama administration’s efforts to increase direct investment in the United States, which leads to economic growth and job creation,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez. “The SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit is the first of its kind, helping to match potential investors with economic development organizations…”
Maria Andrews, Commercial Counselor at the U.S. Embassy, said: “The United States not only offers a huge and very accessible market, but it makes a terrific platform for young Israeli companies to expand to other international markets, often acquiring valuable American strategic partners along the way.”
Foreign direct investment (FDI) plays a critical role in the U.S. economy, which is why President Obama launched SelectUSA, the first-ever U.S. government-wide initiative to promote and facilitate investment in the United States. In 2012, nearly $168 billion in FDI flowed into the United States. In 2011, employment by U.S. affiliates of foreign firms rose to 5.6 million U.S. workers, up from more than 5.3 million the previous year.
To learn more about SelectUSA, and to register for the summit, please visit www.selectusasummit.com
- Written by Israel Tourism Ministry
TOURISM MINISTRY INCREASES ITS MARKETING INVESTMENT IN CHINA AS THE REFORM IN VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR ISRAEL TAKES EFFECT
TOURISM MINISTER DR. UZI LANDAU: “The Tourism Ministry has identified the tourism potential in China, defining it as one of the leading destinations in its campaign for emerging markets. As a result, we will work to increase the number of incoming tourists from China to Israel over the next few years. The two countries are rich in ancient history and heritage and I am sure that Chinese tourists will find Israel a source of inspiration.”
The Israel Government Tourist Office in China is organizing a Road Show in three cities this week (8-12 July): Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. 500 leading Chinese travel agents are invited to attend the Road Show, some of them being specialists in the Middle East market. Following the seminars, which will expose the participants to the Israeli tourism product, there will be a series of round-table meetings between Israeli and Chinese tour operators to encourage cooperation. The ministry has also produced a booklet in Chinese, featuring business profiles of the Israeli companies participating in the Road Show.
The Road Show, which is accompanied by extensive advertising in the trade and mainstream media, will also feature attractions such as Israeli food, Dead Sea mud treatments etc.
The Israel Embassy in Beijing recently announced the implementation of reforms for Chinese visitors receiving entry visas to Israel, in order to encourage tourism. These include, among others, an option for a visa for independent travelers without the need for assistance from a local tour operator; a simpler procedure for issuing business visas to Israel and for bank guarantees for residents of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou (where Israel has consular offices. It should be noted that, presently, Israeli consular services are not available worldwide due to a work dispute by Foreign Ministry employees). These easier procedures are part of a program to make Israel more accessible to the Chinese tourist and to encourage airlines to operate flights to Israel in the near future.
In recent years, Israel has become an attractive tourism destination for the Chinese visitor, with an increase of 27% in incoming tourism from China during the first five months of 2013 versus the same period last year (and a 45% increase on 2011). China is the most important source country worldwide for tourism, with an increase of 20% in the numbers of visitors from China to international destinations during 2010-2011. In 2012, more than 20,000 visitors from China arrived in Israel.
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