Israeli Tourists Desert Turkey for Bulgaria over Gaza Conflict

2010-06-10

Israel will redirect 400 000 of its tourists from Turkey to Bulgaria, as a direct result from the flaring Gaza conflict, Israeli Social Minister announced Thursday. “After the deterioration of our relations with Turkey, which was a main destination for about 400 000 of our tourists, naturally Bulgaria will be the best alternative for them,” Minister Isaac Herzog said at an official meeting with his Bulgarian counterpart, Totyu Mladenov. Herzog called upon the Bulgarian government to make efforts to advertise the country in Israel. “There are many retired people who go to spa resorts in Greece and Romania. The most natural thing for them would be to visit Bulgaria afterwards. Varna is a very popular tourist destination,” the Israel minister said and added many Israelis visit ski resorts as well. Herzog met with his Bulgarian counterpart to discuss cooperation on social issues; Israel and Bulgaria are going to update a social issues convention they signed in 2009. The two countries work together on integrating orphans and people with disabilities in the society, and on attracting NGOs that have experience in Israel for building nursing homes in Bulgaria. The recent conflict at the Gaza strip, where Israeli commandos stormed an aid ship and killed 9 Turkish citizens, deteriorated the traditionally good relations between the two countries.