Sunday, February 19, 2012
"KKL-JNF possesses a great treasure in its forests, and the forests themselves hold a lot of smaller treasures. All we have to do is go in among the trees and find them."
Many of the Israeli tourist sites represented at this year’s International Tourism Fair held in Tel Aviv’s Trade Fairs and Convention Center share a common denominator: they are supported by the green infrastructure established and maintained by the Jewish National Fund throughout the country over the past 110 years
. Because of this, the KKL-JNF section occupied a special place of honor this year and attracted a great deal of interest.
KKL-JNF information table. Photo: Gabi Bron
This year’s KKL-JNF pavilion was twice as large as in previous years, and its theme was An Israeli Forest Experience, with all that the title implies. At the pavilion Hannah Bechar
explains: “KKL-JNF possesses a great treasure in its forests, and the forests themselves hold a lot of smaller treasures. All we have to do is go in among the trees and find them. The forests offer natural beauty spots and heritage sites, cycle paths, hiking trails
, bicycle paths
, trails adapted
to meet the needs of people with physical disabilities and, of course, recreation areas. All these are at the disposal of the public, Israelis and tourists alike, all year round, free of charge.”
Informing visitors about KKL-JNF sites. Photo: Gabi Bron
The KKL-JNF pavilion at the International Tourist Fair has the specific purpose of conveying this information to those members of the public who have not yet experienced Israel’s forests, and to anyone else wishing to offer guests from abroad a more varied Israeli experience. Here tour operators and travel agents from all over the world can get all the information they need. On the morning of the first day of the fair, a great deal of activity could already be observed around the KKl-JNF booth, as great interest was expressed by tour guides wanting to vary the itinerary of their groups or provide them with a unique experience of the kind that almost always results in a heightened sense of identification with the State of Israel.
The KKL-JNF pavilion is offering these people and others a new form of tourism unique to KKL-JNF: “Forester for a Day
,” a program that enables visitors to Israel to participate in the care and rehabilitation of forests throughout the country, with the fire-damaged Carmel Forests
foremost among them.
“Forester for a Day” was initiated by KKL-JNF’s Director of Tourism Esther Weinstein. At a side event at the fair, she and Revital Ovadia presented the program to travel agents and other visitors. It has already proved very popular with hundreds of tourists who have enjoyed the unique experience it offers to groups and families from abroad who are looking for an unconventional experience that will allow them to become more personally involved and give them an opportunity to get to know the country better.
KKL-JNF side event on tourism options. Photo: Gabi Bron
For a token fee, participants in the Forester for a Day program can help with woodland care and forest fire prevention
. In return they are presented with a certificate of appreciation, and a KKL-JNF hat and pin, as an expression of thanks for their help. “As far as KKL-JNF is concerned, this activity has a contribution to make, even though we’re talking about just a few hours’ work,” said Weinstein. “It makes people more aware of KKL-JNF’s ecological activities in general and involves them in the fabric of Israeli life.”
KKL-JNF’s Lake Hula Director Efi Naim
and Southern Region Planner Zohar Tzafon
also took part in the side event. Efi Naim spoke of the increasing numbers of visitors and tourists at Lake Hula
, which has become a major attraction for nature lovers and bird watchers from all over the world. Zohar Tzafon described the planning and construction of cycle paths in Israel’s southern forests.
The international tourism fair. Photo: Gabi Bron
Visitors to the fair also dropped by the KKL-JNF pavilion to plant a tree using the Click and Plant
online planting page on the organization’s redesigned website. Everyone who planted a tree online was presented with a real sapling belonging to one of the varieties that KKL-JNF is engaged in planting at present the length and breadth of Israel. Their planting certificates will be mailed to them later.
A varied and colorful range of tourist brochures produced by KKL-JNF for visitors to its forests and sites countrywide was also on display at the pavilion, from pamphlets detailing hiking routes at the various sites, to KKL-JNF maps of forests and cycle paths. KKL-JNF pavilion staff enjoyed hearing their visitors’ frequent compliments on the organization’s range of activities for the public at scenic routes and lookouts, along cycle paths and down special woodland trails.