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SITE OF JESUS' BAPTISM NOW OPEN DAILY TO VISITORS AND PILGRIMS

After much investment in infrastructure to improve the spiritual experience and physical comfort of tourists and pilgrims, the Qasr el Yahud baptism site on the River Jordan, known as the place of Jesus' baptism, is now open daily to the public. Recognized since the 4th century as the site of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, Qasr el Yahud is considered the third most important site for Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land (after the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem). Israel's Ministry of Tourism, among others, has invested about $2.3 million in renovating and upgrading the site. Wooden ramps into the Jordan River now allow pilgrims easy and comfortable access to the waters for baptism; shaded areas have been erected for prayer sessions; and bathroom, shower and parking facilities have been upgraded. The site is also wheelchair-accessible.

JUNE 2011 SETS NEW ALL-TIME HIGH FOR TRAVEL TO ISRAEL

Travel to Israel reached another all-time high last month with the arrival of 262,000 travelers, 1% more than in June 2010 and a 25% increase from June 2009. Tourist entries (tourists who stayed for more than one night) also reached an all-time high for the month of June with 228,300 - 7% more than in June 2010 and 4% more than in June 2009. 3.45 million travelers arrived in Israel in 2010 - the best year ever for travel to Israel.

JERUSALEM AND TEL AVIV VOTED BEST CITIES IN THE MIDDLE EAST


Jerusalem has been voted #1 Best City in the Middle East, and Tel Aviv #2, by the readers of Travel+Leisure, considered by many as America's leading travel magazine. Published by the American Express Company, Travel+Leisure publishes its annual World's Best Awards in the magazine's August issue.

El AL ISRAEL AIRLINES CELEBRATES 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF RECORD-SETTING FLIGHT FROM NEW YORK TO TEL AVIV

Last month, El Al Israel airlines celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first nonstop flight from New York to Tel Aviv, which took place on June 15, 1961. The maiden flight established three world records: the first nonstop service between New York and Tel Aviv; the fastest flight between the two cities (9 hours, 33 minutes); and the longest nonstop commercial flight to date at a distance of 5,760 miles.

JERUSALEM LAUNCHES NEW SELF-GUIDED MP3 WALKING TOURS THROUGH THE OLD CITY

As part of a new initiative led by the Jerusalem Development Authority, travelers to the Old City of Jerusalem can now tour the city's historical, religious and cultural sites with new self-guided digital JerusaleMP3 walking tours. The digital tours come complete with maps and written explanations available in four languages, enriching the touring experience through the Old City, including the Jewish Quarter, Via Dolorosa and Temple Mount, among other sites. The multimedia audio tours also feature video and can be operated from a smartphone or similar audio device, and are free for download. www.jerusalemp3.com

SUMMERTIME EVENTS AT THE ISRAEL MUSEUM IN JERUSALEM

In celebration of last year's multi-million dollar renovation, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem has announced a diverse list of new events and activities taking place through September, including: an Art Happening featuring works by artist Noa Haim and music by the Israeli Revolution Orchestra (July 26); Journey to Faraway Lands, an active exhibit for children to learn about distant lands and cultures; an Israeli Wine-Tasting Festival (August 15-18); and the 26th annual Kite-Flying Festival featuring kite-flying workshops and a musical parade. www.imj.org.il/PDF/Summer_2011_e.pdf

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Trips to the Holy Land

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Testimonials from our Travelers

My Sincere thanks once again to you and Sara who made our trip not only a reality but also a remarkable experience.

What wonderful memories I have of the trip!  Such good friends!  What fun we had!  And what a remarkable experience it was!  I re-live our journey everyday as I share stories with friends and colleagues, look at pictures again and again, finally get around to reading the brochures and books that I bought during the travel and just plain think about the wonderful trip.

Denny Asp
Capital University