Filed under: education, General, Holidays, Israeliness, Life, News, Religion, Travel
With every other country and organization doing their bit to welcome the Chilean miners back to the world, including iPods from Apple, sunglasses from Oakley, and invites from soccer teams, Israel’s Tourism Ministry wanted to contribute their piece as well. And so, they’ve invited the miners and their wives to visit the Holy Land on a spiritual journey this Christmas, in order to give special prayers of thanks for their rescue. Their trip, natch, will include sightseeing of various sites that are holy to Christianity.
In his invitation, Minister Misezhnikov wrote: “Your bravery and strength of spirit, your great faith that helped you survive so long in the bowels of the earth, was an inspiration to us all. It would be a great honor for us to welcome you as our guests in the Holy Land. This December, Christians around the world – and here in the Land of Jesus – will celebrate Christmas. During that time, we welcome tens of thousands of pilgrims and we would be pleased to offer you this uplifting and extraordinary experience, as our guests.”
Working with the hotels, airlines and holy sites, the ministry invite includes flights, rooms and full board for five to seven days. Not bad for the peak season of Christmas. Having just finished updating the hotels. restaurants, cafes and nightlife section for the Fodor’s guidebook 2011, I’m wondering where the ministry is planning on hosting the miners. The American Colony in East Jerusalem is lovely, but pricey at $430 for a standard double room during high season. The Ambassador or Addar hotels are more affordable at $200 and $180 per room, while the much simpler Lutheran Guesthouse is much cheaper at $120 a night.
But no matter. Whatever the choice, I’m sure it will be welcoming and comfortable, as Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov stated that the ministry wants to turn Christian tourists into tourism ambassadors for Israel back home. After all, pilgrimage, according to ministry figures, represents one third of incoming tourist to Israel. 2008 was still the record year, with Christian pilgrims accounting for 62% of the three million tourists, and in 2009, some 58% were pilgrims.
Why shouldn’t we include the 33 miners in the figures for 2010?