Jerusalem, 14 February 1999

Holy Land 2000 Leaders Conference

(Communicated by GPO)

The Ministry of Tourism and the Palestinian Authority tourism office are jointly hosting The Holy Land 2000 Leaders Conference to discuss arrangements for the year 2000, in Jerusalem from Thursday, 18.2.99 to Saturday, 20.2.99. Approximately 500 Catholic priests, bishops, archbishops and cardinals, as well as editors, and media and tourism officials from over 30 countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas are participating in the conference; they will also visit Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, Nazareth, the Galilee and Bethlehem.

The Conference is intended to present Israel as a focus of Christian religious pilgrimage in 2000 as well as a center of religious freedom and freedom of expression and enable the participants to spread this message to the Christian world.

The Ministry of Tourism considers the year 2000 as an unprecedented event which will provide a unique opportunity to position Israel’s image, policies, economy and tourism, expose Israel to potential pilgrims, and improve Israel’s tourism services and infrastructure. The Ministry expects approximately 4 million tourists including many Christian pilgrims tourists to arrive in Israel in 2000. There will be some 55,000 rooms in hotels, hostels, youth hostels, pensions and village zimmers. The Ministry’s marketing budget is NIS 106 million annually in 1999-2000.