Tel Aviv eyes tourism boon with ‘superb’ Eurovision week

The Eurovision Village, an space devoted for followers of the 2019 Eurovision Tune Contest, is seen from above alongside the shoreline in Tel Aviv, Israel Might 15, 2019. Reuters/Corinna Kern

Tel Aviv:  Eurovision hasn’t declared its winner but however vacationers in Israel for the competitors have been declaring host Tel Aviv “superb”, with officers hoping to capitalise on the momentum for future occasions.

On Monday, only a day earlier than the primary spherical of semi-finals started in a close-by conference centre, downtown Tel Aviv was bustling with a Eurovision vibe.

On the elegant Rothschild Boulevard, volunteers with purple t-shirts and matching hats have been offering Eurovision vacationers with booklets and details about the town and competitors venues.

A brief distance away, a bunch was gathering for a free strolling tour of the town’s LGBT landmarks, operated by Sandeman which had broadened its regular Tel Aviv repertoire for Eurovision week.

On the sandy seaside beneath the Hilton resort, Laszlo Lukacs was having fun with the afternoon solar and breeze on a recliner.

To Lukacs, a Zurich-based Hungarian in software program gross sales, the Israeli venue was an fascinating twist within the Eurovision plot.

“It is tremendous thrilling for us Europeans to return right here,” mentioned Lukacs, who has adopted Eurovision to every host nation for the previous six years.

“Is that this Europe, speaking about Eurovision, is it the Center East, all these completely different religions mixing right here,” he mentioned.

Whereas Tel Aviv was costly, Lukacs mentioned its residents have been “tremendous useful up to now and really good, very pleasant individuals.”

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“To date it is a very optimistic and fascinating expertise,” he added.

Stretching eastward from the Mediterranean, Israel’s financial and cultural centre likes to boast of its seashores, vibrant nightlife, historical quarters and wealthy culinary and cultural scene.

Tel Aviv’s pluralistic nature — it hosts the most important Homosexual Delight occasion within the area — stands in distinction not solely to neighbouring Arab states however even different Israeli cities akin to Jerusalem.

Whereas Israel’s 2018 Eurovision victory with Netta Barzilai’s “Toy” meant the Jewish state would host the subsequent yr, Tel Aviv was not handed the boon on a silver platter.

Israeli politicians initially insisted that Jerusalem host the occasion, backing down solely after objections by ultra-Orthodox politicians over the finals being held near the Jewish Sabbath.

Pressures by pro-Palestinian activists and artists to boycott the Israeli occasion loomed within the background, and tensions with Gaza, culminating in a flareup earlier this month affecting southern Israel, threatened to disrupt the occasion.

‘Like a marriage’

Eytan Schwartz, CEO of Tel Aviv International who was tasked with making ready the town for Eurovision vacationers, mentioned a whole lot of individuals had been working across the clock for 9 month for the occasion.

“We ready for this like a marriage,” he mentioned on the backdrop of a Eurovision banner outdoors the municipality constructing, which at nights illuminates its entrance with the flags of nations taking part within the Eurovision.

This yr 41 nations are competing, with Dutch singer Duncan Laurence favorite to win in line with a survey of bookmakers by unbiased fan web site Eurovision World.

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It remained unclear whether or not Madonna will carry out on the Saturday remaining, after Israel’s public broadcaster KAN mentioned it was in negotiations with the US icon.

Making ready for the competitors included coaching resort employees, taxi and bus drivers, establishing a small military of volunteers and making ready accessible data for guests, Schwartz mentioned.

Whereas the ten,000 vacationers on the town for Eurovision don’t symbolize a big amount for a serious European metropolis, in small Tel Aviv — with underneath half 1,000,000 residents — you “really feel them throughout the town.”

A beachside Eurovision Village has been arrange for stay performances, with cubicles promoting meals and merchandise, in addition to the Eurovision exhibitions and installations.

For Tel Aviv, the Eurovision was “a platform to look at all our challenges as a small metropolis and take us up a degree so far as our skills to soak up vacationers,” Schwartz mentioned.

The bizarre worldwide publicity may additionally assist place Tel Aviv as a venue for conferences and even sports activities occasions, he added.

The heavy media presence and international consideration on the town “is a present that Netta gave us,” Schwartz mentioned.

On the Eurovision Village, customer Chris Walker mentioned the competitors — wed with the town recognized for its social gathering scene — would make “an unmissable occasion.”

“Everybody’s so pleasant, all people’s prepared that can assist you any likelihood they’ll,” the Scotland native mentioned over blaring audio system.

Travelling with Walker, Daniel mentioned he’d been following Eurovision from Chile for the previous seven years.

“This yr I made a decision — why not go to Tel Aviv, which is a metropolis I’ve at all times needed to go to, so right here I’m, ready for the present to start out,” he mentioned, praising the nice and cozy climate and folks.

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“Everybody speaks English and everybody is sweet and up to now it has been actually superb,” he mentioned.