In response to a wave of stabbings, lynchings, and rioting, the Israeli government is taking an unusual approach to woo tourists: offering discounted vacations on Groupon. Starting next week, Israel’s Ministry of Tourism will sell discount vacation packages to American tourists via Groupon in a rare example of a government agency directly offering vacation tours via the coupon service.
Yariv Levin, Israel’s minister of tourism, told Hebrew-language newspaper Yediot Aharonot that the seven-day trips–which will run between $1,000 and $1,400 for all-inclusive packages including airfare, hotels, and other expenses–are designed “to project a sense of business as usual and encourage tourism during the months when hotel occupancies in Israel are low.”
“When you shout, ‘Crisis, crisis,’ it only intensifies the external crisis and makes people hesitate whether to come to Israel,” Levin added. “When they see that we keep marketing Israel as usual, it projects business as usual.”
While most of Israel’s tourist attractions–with the possible exception of Jerusalem’s Old City–remain safe for foreign tourists, the Israeli government is understandably concerned that increased chaos will deter tourists from visiting the country. Winter is traditionally a slow season for foreign tourism, and tourism authorities worry the unrest will cause a further decline in visitors. The past month has seen a spate of stabbings and shootings of civilians across Israel and the West Bank.