New York—Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations leaders Richard Stone, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman, urged Israeli leaders to reconsider the proposal to apply the value added tax (VAT) to foreign tourists.
They said: “The addition of the VAT would add significantly to the cost for tourists and will, we fear, cause many to reconsider, postpone, or even cancel trips to Israel. In addition, it will negatively impact important programs like America’s Voices in Israel, Taglit-Birthright, missions and conferences.
“The Conference of Presidents has worked hard to encourage increased tourism to Israel in good times and in bad. Together with the Ministry of Tourism, we conducted campaigns of many kinds to attract new and repeat visitors to Israel. We recognize the tremendous economic importance of tourism and also its central role in building ties between Jewish and non-Jewish communities around the world and Israel. There is no better way to make the case for Israel than by enabling people to experience it. Especially at this time with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign gaining momentum and the distortions about Israel so common place, getting people to visit Israel and see the truth for themselves is of great importance. During difficult times, it was these visits that showed the people of Israel that they were not alone and demonstrated to the world the support that Israel enjoys.
“Moreover, since tourism is linked to many sectors of Israel’s economy, we are concerned that making Israel an unaffordable destination for American and other foreign tourists would harm not only those who work directly in the tourism industry, but also those who are employed in supporting industries, suppliers, merchants and others.
“While we recognize the budgetary need for additional funds and for all to contribute, it is our hope that other sources can be found that will not damage this vital sector of Israel’s economy and diminish its ties to the international community,” they said.