TEL AVIV, Israel - Nov. 12, 1997-"Embracing travel and tourism is not only good business, it makes good sense," John Russell, Chairman and CEO of The HFS Hospitality Division, told an audience here during the dedication of the Program for Research and Management in Travel, Tourism and Franchising at the Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration at Tel Aviv University. The program provides graduate level training for Middle East business executives. Russell and Mike Leven, CEO of US Franchise Systems, led the mission to Israel October 26 to November 2, 1997 with key executives of the hospitality industry to promote peace and business in the Middle East. Russell, along with Leven has been the major force in the design and structure of the program as well as its chief fundraisers.
"This was a breakthrough mission because it provided these delegates
the opportunity to meet with many leaders
of business in the Middle East, to learn how they do business and to see first hand educational and cultural
networking opportunities," said Russell. "The business leaders on this trip looked to the future where building
the tourism industry will generate much needed revenue and jobs for the region." Russell went on to say, "Travel
and tourism provides many jobs for those whose positions were eliminated through technology. This program
will ensure the continuation of technological progress for the Middle East, while acting as a stabilizing force for
the labor market."
The ceremony began with opening remarks by Professor Israel Zang, Dean
of the Faculty of Management, who
later presented certificates to Russell and Leven. Minister Moshe Katsav, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of
Tourism, Israel, also spoke at the ceremony.
The event concluded with lectures by Russell and Leven titled "Tourism
is Good for Business," and "Tourism is
Good for Peace," respectively. The lectures were followed by a discussion panel whose members included
Raphael Farber, president, Days Inn Israel; Benjamin D. Gaon, president and CEO, Koor Industries Ltd.; Gil
Leidner, managing director, Koor Tourism Ltd.; David Litvak, director general, Ministry of Tourism; Abraham
Rosental, director general, Israel Hotel Association; and Professor Mazan Badra, faculty of the Business School
of Bethlehem University. Moderator was Professor Arie Reichel, chairman, Department of Hotel and Tourism
Management, and associate dean, School of Management, Ben-Gurion University.
Russell said that both he and Leven feel strongly about including travel
and tourism programs in high school
and university curriculums as well as in career guidance programs.
"Travel and tourism has to be in the forefront of new education and
training techniques and technologies --
especially given the evolution of products, major shifts in markets, and increasing emphasis on service quality
which will characterize travel and tourism over the next decade," Russell said.
Russell said that franchising, often misunderstood outside of North
America, is one of the most successful
formats for doing business in travel and tourism.
"An increasing number of foreign countries are embracing franchisors,
or at least the concept of franchising.
Franchisors like HFS believe that the growth potential of franchising is much greater in markets that are wide
open," Russell further stated.
In addition to the dedication ceremonies, the mission had the opportunity
to meet and speak with Jews,
Palestinians, Jordanians, Egyptians and Bedouins. Sarah Kreimer, founder and co-director of the Center for
Jewish-Arab Economic Development said, "We discussed successful initiatives to bring Jews, Israeli Arabs and
Palestinians together as business partners." Included in the itinerary were visits to the cities of Tel Aviv/Yaffo,
Jerusalem, Nazareth, Tiberias, and Bethlehem, in addition to the Kibbutz Museum, St. George's Monastery, Yad
Vashem (memorial to Holocaust victims), the tomb of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the Garden of
Gethsemane (where Jesus found shelter after the Last Supper) and the Church of All Nations.
"We were able to see many initiatives and speak to many people, all
of who want peace," Russell said. "We saw
children and adults, Jews and Palestinians, learning together, demonstrating very graphically that barriers can be
broken down if people get to know each other and want to work together. Many of us, including myself, came
away from this mission with a single-thought -- the key to peace is people, and the people want peace," Russell
Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths were also represented within the
mission members that included Don
Comstock, president of Trinity Property Management; Lee Dushoff, managing partner, Hotel Partners; Robert T.
Foley, president and CEO, Educational Institute of AHMA, Jo Geier, owner, Lake Catamount Realty; John
Grother, owner, Days Inn Port Charlotte and Chairman, Days Inn Franchise Advisory Committee; Ken Johnson,
president, Cordent, Inc.; Moez Mangalji, vice president, Westmont Hospitality; Marty Mitchell, president,
Christy MacDougall Mitchell Advertising; Jim O'Toole, program director, QUALLCOMMM; Tom Prince, partner,
Prince/Bush Investments; Stephen Rushmore, president Hospitality Valuation Services, Inc.; John Powell, sales
vice president, AtT; Ken Strottman, president, Strottman International; Jane M. Rogul, associate executive vice
president, American Friends of Tel Aviv University; and Robert W. Yaap, CEO, Great Pacific Securities.
HFS Inc. is a global provider of real estate and travel services. The
company is the world's largest franchisor of
residential real estate brokerage offices, provides mortgage services to consumers and is the global leader in
employee relocation. Within the travel sector of the economy, HFS is the largest franchisor of hotels and rental
car agencies and the leading provider of vacation timeshare exchanges. HFS is also the second largest vehicle
management company worldwide. Recently, the company announced it will merge with CUC International Inc. to
form the world's leading consumer and business services company. The transaction is expected to close in the fall