The German National Tourist Office (GNTB) and the Israel Ministry of Tourism are joining efforts in marketing spiritual travel to Americans in order to further increase incoming travel to the two countries. A corresponding project was agreed upon on the occasion of the celebration for the 50th anniversary of Germany and Israel establishing their diplomatic relationship.
Israel’s Minister of Tourism, Yariv Levin explains: “I congratulate everyone on this important cooperative venture. I am sure this project will attract a large number of spiritual travelers and pilgrims to both Germany and Israel. Israel’s holy sites are important attractions for travelers, and the joint project “In the footsteps of Jesus and Martin Luther“ offers an excellent opportunity to experience the beginnings of the Christian belief.“
Iris Gleicke, Federal Government Commissioner for Tourism and Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in Germany states: “Without a doubt, the German Israeli relationship will always be unique due to Germany’s historic responsibility for the Holocaust. It was 50 years ago that the Federal Republic of Germany and Israel started their diplomatic relationship. Today, our two countries are closely and amicably linked through varied political, cultural and economic ties, and I am very pleased that we will work together even closer going forward thanks to the joint tourism project “In the footsteps of Jesus and Martin Luther.“
At the initiative’s core is the development of a cross-national tourism product called “In the footsteps of Jesus and Martin Luther.“ The five-day trip through the Holy Land follows Jesus’ path of life from his hometown of Nazareth through Galilee to Jerusalem. The tourism attractions include places such as Cana, site of Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine, scenic highlights such as the Sea of Galilee and the historic sites of Jerusalem. The five-day Reformation tour through Germany leads from the capital city of Berlin to the places where Martin Luther lived and work: Wittenberg, Eisleben, Erfurt and Eisenach, finishing in Frankfurt am Main.
The joint marketing and PR activities will focus on targeting select media, travel industry multipliers, specialists in religious group travel as well as members of the clergy and leaders of Christian groups.
The plan of action for 2016 includes promotion of the travel product at road shows in the U.S., joint PR events, distribution of joint newsletters, joint attendance of the Evangelical Press Association’s annual convention as well as a combined press trip with a video blogger.
Petra Hedorfer, CEO of the GNTB commented on the signing of the cooperation agreement: “With roughly 156 million Protestants, the U.S. is one of the core markets for our activities concerning the 2017 theme campaign “Martin Luther – 500 years of the reformation in Germany.” The cooperation with the Israel Ministry of Tourism is an excellent addition to our long-term marketing strategy for promoting the whole Luther decade and offers a great platform for international understanding.”
Amir Halevi, Director-General of the Israel Ministry of Tourism states: “The ancient places of origin of Christianity are some of the most important tourist attractions in Israel. Numerous believers from around the world travel to Israel to discover the roots of their faith and of the Christian world religion at these holy sites. 1500 years later, Luther and the reformation movement in Germany not only changed the Christian church but also shaped the development of Europe in the modern era. Our joint tourism project “In the footsteps of Jesus and Martin Luther“ offers the unique opportunity to experience these world cultures’ formative influences in their full magnitude and complexity.”