I am booked for a press trip to Israel.
One of the things I enjoy about press trips is the surprise factor. As is demonstrated in the quite instructive, short phrase that I received in a recent email from Tourism Israel: ‘details to come’.
In regular travel, I/we arrange our accommodations ahead of time (or not) show up to a place and begin exploring.
On a press trip? Not so much.
They are generally quite the dog-and-pony show. Tourism boards are, after all, keen to show nothing but the best of their destination.
I recall my first bona-fide extended press trip to an international destination. Our group of writers eventually dubbed it the smoke-and-mirrors show. The tourism board, keen to show us their national monuments and all the wonders of how modern they were, bussed us to every touristic spot there was. I wasn’t quite sure how fired up I could get in writing about a national monument in the designated photo op time. But somehow, all the stops combined to give me a pretty good overview of the country.
But all I really wanted to do on that trip was to meet a genuine shaman or find the tucked away corner where ‘real’ life was happening. Eventually I did meet the shaman in an epic experience that included creating my very own love potion, though you can trust me that my meeting wasn’t on their official agenda. At all.
Most tourism boards get it. They understand that stories happen in the down time, in that little gap of insight that occurs between the forced march to the next, best, biggest (fill-in-the-blank-here) thing. They know that it is a fine balance between cramming everything in and allowing the visiting writer to absorb what’s happening.
They know that the moment, that elusive story, comes unbidden between all those sites and attractions.
And then of course, there’s the whole issue of peace. There is that…
And although Shalom is Hebrew for Peace Be With You, life isn’t always that peaceful in that region, particularly with the latest elections and now that Syria is imploding.
Here’s hoping for a good story, but most of all, here’s hoping there can be peace for all.