After bringing Israel to an all-time high in inbound tourism, managing the severe crisis in tourism during the COVID-19 period and with the reopening of the sky for tourist entry, Amir Halevi, CEO of the Ministry of Tourism announces his retirement today. During his tenure, Halevi led many reforms in the Ministry of Tourism’s international marketing strategy, as well as in the areas of aviation, infrastructure and the organizational structure of the Ministry of Tourism.
Halevi took office in 2013, when inbound tourism was at a slump after a decade of stagnation in tourism that failed to break through the 2.9 million tourist barrier each year. After a deep process of studying the global tourism market and examining various strategic alternatives, Halevi led a new global strategic plan for the Ministry of Tourism whose main goal is a significant breakthrough in inbound tourism to Israel. Israel’s marketing budget has tripled and reached half a billion shekels a year. A new brand strategy was chosen, centered on the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv tourism brands, along with other brands such as the Dead Sea, Eilat and the Negev brand. Digital marketing budgets have been dramatically increased and the first marketing agreements of their kind have been signed with the largest tourism giants in the world, including Expedia and CityTrip, and indeed immediately after the implementation of the program, a dramatic jump in tourism began and from early 2017 to early 2020. When at the end of 2019 a record was set, which only 3 years earlier seemed completely imaginary: 4.55 million tourists a year and a rate of 5 million tourists in the months before the COVID-19.
Amir Halevi: “Leading the Ministry of Tourism for almost nine years was a fascinating professional challenge. We led one of the largest economic, marketing and organizational revolutions ever made in Israel. We tripled the ministry’s marketing budget to half a billion ILS, opened airlines to many new destinations around the world and revolutionized infrastructure with the opening of the skies, the transfer of the budget for the entry of tourists and the transfer of the government’s decision to develop the Negev as a leading international tourism brand, I decided that it was time to move the management stick of the ministry forward and embark on a new path”.
Minister of Tourism, Yoel Razvozov: “I thank Amir Halevi for 9 years in which he marched the Ministry of Tourism and all tourism to Israel to great heights. During his time, the State of Israel managed to host about 4.5 million tourists a year that brought about 40 billion ILS to the Israeli economy. My request to remain in his position and office until we finish the COVID-19 waves and return the tourists to Israel, is appreciated. It was a professional and correct transfer for me to the tourism industry in Israel, to all its employees who suffered almost two years from the COVID-19 crisis and wonderful ministry employees”.