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February 03, 1989 - Image 35

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-02-03

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Jerusalem's Biggest Inn
Optimistic About Future


Special to The Jewish News


very tourist who
comes to Israel spends
time in this capital ci-
ty. There were occasions when
the flood of visitors was so
great that even the thousands
of hotel rooms were insuffi-
cient to accommodate them
all, and latecomers had to be
housed outside the city and
even as far as Tel Aviv. It
seemed there was need for
more hotels, and so they were
Today, with the distorted
negative image which Israel
has received in the media, the
splendid facilities are not
fully used, and the bright and
promising hoped of a
flourishing tourist industry
have not materialized.
Who is to blame? Some say
the press and television,
which have painted the coun-
try in dark hues and have pro-
moted fear and doubt in the
minds of prospective visitors.
Some say the Arabs, who
have deliberately created
_ unrest in order to frighten
away tourists, who do not
realize that the disturbances
are not near the places where
tourists usually go. After all,
even in American cities there
are neighborhoods which
local law-abiding citizens
Some say American Jews
are to blame for having suc-
cumbed. No one really knows,
but it has been said that no
more than 15 percent of
American Jewry have paid
even a single visit to the
Jewish State.
Some say the Israel govern-
ment is at fault for not con-
ducting an imaginative pro-
motion campaign. And some
blame the hotels, on the
grounds that their rates are
- too high. The latter charge is
hotly refuted by the hoteliers
who point out that the sliding
scale of hotels takes into con-
sideration, every pocketbook
and every taste. Besides, the
new shekel rate gives the
dollar added value here.
When business was good,
there used to be competition
between the hotels. Under
present circumstances there
is a tendency to encourage
tourism in general, in the ex-
pectation that all of them will
The new ones are at the
greatest disadvantage. "If
people come to the country,
we'll all do well," Norman
Rafelson, general manager of
the new Hyatt Regency on

Mt. Scopus told us. "But we
have to try harder because
we're the new kid on the
With its 503 rooms, the
Hyatt is today the biggest
hotel in Jerusalem. Its uni-
que architecture and its
typical Hyatt-style lobby
atrium give it an interna-
tional flavor, but it has
managed to incorporate Israel
characteristics as well, so one
does not have the feeling that
he could just as well be in
Chicago, London or New
The historical, religious,
scenic and recreational at-
tractions of Israel are well
known, but Rafelson is busy
thinking up new attractions
to stimulate visits. At least
one of his ideas has an inter-
national political

In March the Jerusalem
Hyatt will conduct a
Hungarian Festival, replete
with typical music and food.
Of course the thousands of
Hungarian Jews within the
country will be patrons, but a
large delegation of writers,
artists and visitors will come
from Hungary as well.
That's only the first step
because the Hyatt in
Budapest is expected to
reciprocate with an Israel
Festival dedicated to promo-
tion of good will for this coun-
try. What diplomats and
statesmen can't always do,
enterprising hoteliers can
sometimes achieve.
Location is an important
factor for any hotel, and when
Rafelson advertises, for exam-
ple, that he is located within
two minutes walking distance
from the Hebrew University
and Hadassah on Mt. Scopus,
he's not kidding.
How far is it from the Dead
Sea, asks the cynic who wants
his health treatments and
mud baths. The manager
smiles. He has opened a
branch of the Dead Sea on the-
premises, and the Hyatt
health Spa "imports" the
famous Dead Sea muds for
treatments right in the heart
of Jerusalem.

But whether it's the Hyatt
Regency or any of the other
famous hotels in Jerusalem of
Gold, they are all seeking to
outdo themselves this year to
attract guests. Lowered rates,
guaranteed until next year,
and the increased value of the
dollar, will play an important
part in stimulating a new
surge of tourists to the



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