Tours with the Editor
The Four Millionth Tourist
This issue, the second in the series of seven issues that ERETZ is dedicating to the celebration of the State of Israel’s seventieth anniversary, focuses on the history of tourism. Tourism industry got off to a rocky start in Israel. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and Minister of Finance Eliezer Kaplan, whose outlook was adopted by their hosts of underlings and clerks, not only saw no need for tourism, but also opposed the construction of hotels to accommodate tourists and the development of tourism sites. The lone advocate of tourism was Teddy Kollek, the indefatigable director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). He alone had the vision to understand the latent potential of the sites around the country to fascinate visitors.
The Israeli tourism industry only started to take off after the Six Day War in 1967 and even more so after the Yom Kippur War in 1973. The overwhelming majority of the visitors were Christian pilgrims, though luxury tourism also rose slightly in these years. It was only after the turn of the millennium that Israel began to be seen as a destination for a fun, relaxing vacation and to appeal to business travelers.
The ERETZ Magazine Story
Eretz Magazine was the brainchild of two Israelis and an American: Yadin Roman, Dita Kohl and Lenny Zakim. Roman, at the time head of the Israel Ministry of Tourism Guide School, and Zakim, the Anti-Defamation League’s New England Regional Director, had been collaborating on bringing groups of up-and-coming political decision makers to Israel on fact-finding tours, the groups were organized by the ADL and guided by Roman. Roman, Kohl, and Zakim decided to publish an English-language magazine about the Land of Israel.
ERETZ was always on the forefront of technology. Our website was up in 1999, internet podcasts were started in 2003, and ERETZ guides were on sale in digital formats over a decade ago.
But, with all the new gadgetry and innovation, from website to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest (and we are represented on all of them), we have remained a magazine devoted to presenting a story in the best manner possible, with in-depth research, amazing photos, and glorious spreads, to be perused at leisure.