05/08/2011 13:23

Campaign will push for Dead Sea’s win in the international New 7 Wonders of Nature competition that concludes in November.

The cabinet approved a widespread public relations campaign that will push for the Dead Sea’s win in the international New 7 Wonders of Nature competition, which concludes in November, during its weekly meeting on Sunday morning.

The Dead Sea is currently one of 28 finalists in the competition, which is soliciting votes from the global public at, and will announce the winners on November 11. Some of the other nominees include the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the Yushan mountain range in China, Igazu Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina and Mount Vesuvius in Italy.

To promote the Dead Sea, a steering committee headed by Tourism Ministry Director-General Noaz Bar-Nir – and comprised of delegates from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Foreign Ministry, the Minister of Regional Cooperation, the Information and Diaspora Ministry and the Interior Ministry – will determine how to most effectively propel this PR battle, according to a joint proposal issued by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Tourism Ministry.

The Dead Sea – sponsored in the contents collectively by Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan – needs about 300-400 million votes total to land among the seven winners, a statement from the Tourism Ministry said.

Meanwhile, the Tourism Ministry will oversee a comprehensive marketing campaign of NIS 8.75 million – of which NIS 7.25 million will be used for promoting the subject abroad and NIS 1.5 million will be dedicated for efforts within Israel, the proposal said. Of the total, NIS 3.5 million will come from the Tourism Ministry and NIS 2 million will come from the Prime Minister’s Office, with varying amounts from the other participating ministries.

The Tourism Ministry will work in cooperation with different bodies throughout Israel, including local regional councils, governmental organizations, legislative authorities and groups outside the government – with an aim of accruing further donations to finance the program, according to the proposal.

“This process will be used as a mechanism to strengthen the relationship between the Diaspora and other communities abroad who support Israel, which will also help increase the quantity of supporting votes in favor of the Dead Sea’s selection,” the document said.

The Prime Minister’s Office and the Tourism Ministry believe that a win in this competition would increase the number of tourists to the Dead Sea from both abroad and within Israel, raise employment numbers in the Negev, strengthen the gross domestic produce and promote the economic development of the area. These achievements, the proposal said, would be in line with overall government targets of promoting the Dead Sea area and providing financial leverage and employment in periphery areas.

One green group, Friends of the Earth Middle East, criticized government officials, claiming that the plan has a “whiff of populism,” as the officials promote the Dead Sea in this competition and simultaneously contribute to its dryingup.

“We welcome the decision to promote the election of the Dead Sea as one of the seven world wonders, as this will increase awareness toward it,” said director Gideon Bromberg, who maintained, however, that the government must make a “commitment to preserving this important natural resource.”

Previously, the same group responsible for the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition – the New7Wonders Foundation – administered a New 7 Wonders of the World campaign that ended on July 7, 2007, and involved over 100 million voters, according to the cabinet proposal. One of the winners was Petra, Jordan, and the victory there more than doubled tourism in the area and contributed significantly to the country’s economy, according to the proposal.

Meanwhile, the Tourism Ministry said that New7Wonders expects to receive around one billion votes for this year’s competition.

“There is enormous significance in both economic and image terms for the State of Israel should the Dead Sea win an international campaign with over one billion voters,” said Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov in a statement.

“The Israeli government should work together to promote the Dead Sea in the six months that remain until the end of the campaign.”