Tel Aviv beach comes to Berlin tourism fairThe Israeli Ministry of Tourism will bring Tel Aviv sun and sand to ITB, the world’s largest tourism fair in Berlin which opens today. 11,000 exhibitors from 180 countries are expected to participate in the convention. Under the Tel Aviv Centennial banner, Israel’s 770 sqm “Tel Aviv beach” stand will host quizzes, games of matkot – a popular paddleball game played on Tel Aviv beaches – and serve ice cream to visitors. Lothar Matthäus, the famous German footballer who is currently serving as the coach at Maccabi Netanya, will host a goal competition with tourism wholesalers and give interviews to promote tourism to Israel. 140,000 tourists visited Israel from Germany during 2008, an increase of 40% over 2007. In January 2009, there was a decrease of 18% in the number of visitors from Germany (a moderate decrease in relation to the overall decrease of 29% registered in January 2009 over the same period last year). The Tourism Ministry has budgeted some $5 million to promote German tourism to Israel in 2009, its second largest budget after North America.