Why? Because the Pontiff's trip will net the State of Israel up to 200,000 additional tourists this year.
Okay, we get it.
Israel hopes for tourism, image boost from pope
By ARIEL DAVID
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli officials are hoping that the visit of Pope Benedict XVI will boost tourism, improve Israel's image and bolster relations between the Jewish state and the Vatican.
Benedict was starting a five-day trip to the Holy Land on Monday, visiting sites in Israel and the West Bank and celebrating Mass in three locations — Jerusalem, Nazareth and Bethlehem.
He becomes the second pope to make an official visit to Israel, following John Paul II, who made a trip to the Holy Land for the 2000 millennium year.
Israeli tourism officials said Sunday that 15,000 Christian pilgrims are expected to join the pope, in addition to the 35,000 who come to the Holy Land every week.
Tourism officials said they hope the papal visit will attract an additional 200,000 Christian pilgrims to visit the country during the rest of the year. Officials already are expecting about 2.6 million tourists this year.
"I call on every person of faith in the world to visit Jerusalem at least once in their life," Jerusalem's Israeli mayor, Nir Barkat, said Sunday.
Briefing reporters, Israeli Tourism Minister Yuli Edelstein hoped the images of the pope at prayer would push aside some of the impressions of Israel as a focus of war and violence....more...