Israel Honors Gambling Mogul Adelson for His Contribution to Global Tourism

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Israel's goal is to reach 10 million visitors a year within a decade, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday at the Second Jerusalem International Tourism Summit.

The guest of honor at the convention, a two-day affair at the capital's International Convention Center, was the American billionaire-casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who was awarded the JITS prize for innovation and excellence in global tourism.

Netanyahu addressed hundreds of leading figures in Israel's tourism industry at the conference, which was organized by the Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of Tourism, the Jerusalem municipality and the Jerusalem Development Authority. Other prominent attendees included Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, Tourism Minister Uzi Landau, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Jerusalem Development Authority chairman Moshe Leon.

Adelson, who is CEO and chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, received the prize on Tuesday from Landau, Barkat and two participants in Taglit-Birthright. Among Adelson's achievements that were cited during the ceremony when awarding the prize were increasing tourist the numbers in the United States and China, obtaining the total cooperation of the Chinese government and establishing a tourist center in the Chinese territory of Macau.

Adelson is a major contributor to Taglit-Birthright, which since its inception in 1999 has brought more than 340,00 young Jewish adults from around the world on free trips to Israel. Adelson has given $180 million to the organization so far, including $37 million spent on developing tourism in Jerusalem.

Sheldon Adelson (third from left) and wife Miriam accepting the Jerusalem International Tourism Summit award.Credit: Morag Beitan