Israeli Tourist Office drops Halpern for WS

The Israeli Government Tourist Office has split with Halpern after three months and is on the verge of signing up Weber Shandwick.

The switch from an agency best known for its celebrity/lifestyle work to WS comes as the country strives to convince Brits of its merits as a tourist destination after this summer's Israel-Lebanon conflict.

Halpern landed what was a £120,000 account to promote Israel as a holiday destination this summer (PRWeek, 15 June). But it was retendered a couple of months later, after the war broke out.

Israeli Government Tourist Office UK and Ireland director Uzi Gaffini told PRWeek: ‘Every PR company has a forte, and we stopped working with Halpern because we have had ­different needs for the ­country since the war'. WS is expected to ink the UK account, for which four other agencies pitched, in the coming days.

WS director Fenella Grey said: ‘Weber Shandwick is delighted to be selected to help them rebuild their country and build a credible post-war image.

‘Our approach will be to build advocacy with partners and work out who would be best to champion the area, which we hope will have a cascade effect. The war is over, and it is business as usual. Israel may be known for its political problems but life goes on.'

Before the war, Israel had expected three million international tourists this year. Gaffini now estimates the number to be around two ­million, owing to the conflict.

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