Nearly a year after Jewish National Fund-USA’s (JNF-USA) Tourist Information Center in Akko was severely damaged last May during Arab riots in the city, the center has reopened with plans to welcome back tourists. After significant investments and extensive repairs, it will again welcome tourists to Israel’s north, sending the message that the city is safe and ready to celebrate its storied history.

Originally opened in March 2016 with a philanthropic investment of more than $1 million, the tourist information center is part of the organization’s Go North strategic initiative, which aims to strengthen the Galilee region through economic development, tourism promotion and community-building, and with the construction of medical centers and other vital infrastructure.

“We have turned Israel’s Galilee into a must-see destination for tourists from around the world,” said JNF-USA national campaign director Sharon Joy. “By increasing tourism, we create an economic ripple effect that supports jobs and growth throughout the region. And for Israelis, they now see the north as a region with real opportunity, rather than just a place to visit. They can envision raising a family there and finding employment in places like Kiryat Shmona and Akko.”

JNF-USA’s rebuilt Tourist Information Center features services to plan customized hiking trails; cultural, artistic and special culinary experiences; and offers details on where to stay in Israel’s north.

“The city of Akko has been through so much, yet we have always been there for them,” Go North West task force chair Deb Zaluda. “With the reopening of our tourist information center, we renew our pledge to support this city as we say loudly, ‘Let’s continue to work hand in hand to make Israel’s north the number tourist destination for travelers the world over.’ ”

The center is run by Western Galilee Now (WGN), which was established more than a decade ago with the aim of promoting tourism in the area through cooperation between local businesses. Next month, in addition to managing the information center, WGN will hold a three-hour trip to Old Akko on Fridays once every two weeks, starting at the information center, exploring the winding alleys combined with tastings.

The center also plans to bring back local musicians and dance troupes that utilize the building’s space to perform for locals and tourists.

The newly refurbished entryway of JNF-USA’s WGN Tourist Information Center. Credit: Courtesy of JNF-USA.

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