Not many 20-somethings get the chance to visit Israel. You can imagine my surprise when an invite to attend Jerusalem’s first-ever familiarization trip came my way. Without hesitation, I jumped at the opportunity—not only would I get to cover a new meetings market for our magazines (stay tuned for our fall issue, featuring a detailed site visit on Jerusalem), but I would also experience the Middle East for the first time and see all the Biblical spots I had been reading about since childhood.
The timing of the trip was worrisome. My sister was getting married the day after the trip ended, meaning I’d have to trust my international flight wouldn’t delayed or run into any issues on the return trip (risky business!). Regardless, I hopped on a plane and prepared myself for a week of experiencing a new culture, seeing historic architecture dating back 3,000 years, and touring gorgeous hotels and meeting spaces.
Hosted by the Jerusalem CVB, which was established one year ago and already has grown the city’s convention business by 215 percent, the weeklong FAM in June gathered nearly 50 planners from 20 different countries. Here are a few key takeaways that may be useful to planners considering a meeting in the Holy Land.
You can’t travel all the way to Israel without swimming in the Dead Sea. It’s almost a 2-hour bus ride from Jerusalem to the country’s Dead Sea port, but the drive is well worth it. The activity was a refreshing way to end a sweaty day of Jeep tours around the Judean Desert, where we explored caves and took in sweeping sea views from atop Mount Sodom.