The Tourphone service will provide tourists with information, directions and assistance in emergencies.

(Communicated by the Ministry of Tourism)

The Ministry of Tourism launched today (Sunday) its newest service, the Tourphone. Representatives from the Tourism Ministry at Ben Gurion airport will now offer tourists information, directions and a first response via the telephone, 24 hours a day. Tourists can receive answers from the new hotline (*3888 from any telephone) on services, entry and exit regulations at the various border crossings, assistance in emergencies and information regarding visas etc. The hotline will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Questions that can be dealt with immediately will be answered and documented in the files kept at the hotline, while calls that require further attention will be forwarded to the relevant authorities. The Ministry of Tourism will investigate the possibility of widening the service and increasing the number of operators manning the hotline, based on conclusions to be drawn from the first few months of operation.

Tourists will be informed of the new service on arrival in Israel. An information leaflet about the Tourphone will be inserted into their passports at passport control. In addition, information will be distributed at special booths in the arrival terminal of Ben Gurion airport and at tourist information offices around the country. The information is currently available in English and French and will shortly be translated into Russian and other languages. The information leaflet includes the Tourphone hotline, the address of the Tourism Ministry’s website with information on sites, events, attractions and information on the tourism offices operating around the country.

The Tourphone service joins another recently launched initiative aimed at improving the quality and standard of service for tourists. The Pensioners Patrol for Tourism and the Environment, a joint initiative of the Ministries of Tourism, Pensioners’ Affairs and Environment and the Jerusalem Municipality, incorporates fifty specially trained senior citizen volunteers who patrol tourism sites in the New and Old City of Jerusalem, offering assistance and guidance to tourists and report on any problems relating to cleanliness, security etc.

1.5 million tourists visited Israel during January-June 2008, an increase of 45% on the first half of 2007. As a result of the increase and in keeping with the Tourism Ministry’s target of 2.8 million tourists in 2008, the new service is designed to improve the quality of service for the tourist, while offering a fast, helpful and welcoming response.