The Chilean miners, who captured the world’s attention by surviving 69 days in a collapsed mine last year, will touch down in Israel later this month as guests of the Tourism Ministry. The ‘pilgrimage of thanks’ tour is set for February 23 – March 2, 2011.
The Tourism Ministry has offered the 33 miners and their spouses, an all-inclusive, eight-day trip that will include visits to Christian Holy sites, prayer meetings with religious leaders and general sightseeing.
In his invitation to the miners, Israeli Tourism Minister, Stas Mesezhnikov, wrote: “Your bravery and strength of spirit, your great faith that helped you survive so long in the bowels of the earth, was an inspiration to us all. It would be a great honor for us to welcome you as our guests in the Holy Land.”
Ministry officials stressed that the miners’ visit here is a pilgrimage and not “just another junket.”
The miners became instant heroes around the world after surviving 69 days trapped underground in a San Jose mine. For the first 17 days after the mine collapsed, the men were all believed to be dead.
Their story of survival captured global attention. It was one of 2010’s biggest stories. Some 1,500 journalists from across the globe jostled for space at the mine to report on the rescue operation, which was broadcast live around the world.
At the moment the Los 33 miners are on a visit to Disney World. The miners were initially invited to come to Israel during Christmas, but with so many offers on the table, are only now coming. In December, 26 of the miners travelled to England to watch a Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Arsenal. And in November, all 33 toured Hollywood and Beverly Hills.