(By Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod/JNS.org) U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro paid a recent visit to Jewish National Fund’s (JNF) new Western Galilee Tourist Information Center in Akko (Acre) to show support for the organization’s efforts to increase tourism and employment growth in northern Israel.
While in Akko, Shapiro praised the region’s multiculturalism and ongoing commitment to coexistence and “shared citizenship.” The ambassador spent a day visiting with local authorities and others to discuss development in the region. His stop at the new tourist information center included tastes of local delicacies presented by representatives of Western Galilee Now (WGN), a grassroots consortium of more than 30 tourism-related businesses in the area.
The forthcoming tourist information center, which is set to open on March 8, was designed by local Galilee architect Ella Jungerman as a joint project of JNF and WGN with the goal of encouraging tourists to explore the Western Galilee area beyond Akko itself. The centuries-old space in the heart of the old city was badly abused as a furniture shop, but is now clean and bathed with natural light reflecting from stone walls and a high, arched ceiling, as well as a vivid bright blue trim to match other local buildings.
During Shapiro’s visit, Jungerman presented the diplomat with an artist’s concept drawing of the center as a keepsake, along with a “goodie bag” for Shapiro that included treats from several WGN member businesses around the region.
Shapiro also visited Akko’s Western Galilee College, participating in several discussions with the school’s diverse student body.
“It’s very exciting,” Shapiro said during his visit. “Especially here in the Western Galilee, [where] Jews, Arabs, and Druze all live together…opportunities to build shared citizenship where every Israeli citizen, no matter what background they come from, feels a part of it.”
The Western Galilee Tourist Information Center will be open Sunday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with special hours on Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit www.Westgalil.org.il or email firstname.lastname@example.org.