It’s not often that a company places principles over profit. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised when I received the following e-mail:
New York, February 16 2009:
One of America’s largest tour operators, New York-based IsramWorld has canceled its tour programs to Dubai, it was announced today in the wake of the United Arab Emirates’ decision to deny a visa to Israeli tennis player, Shahar Peer, to participate in the Dubai Tennis Championships.
“The UAE’s action is an odious act of political bigotry, says A. Ady Gelber, president and CEO of IsramWorld, a leading U.S. tour operator for more than four decades and a leading member of USTOA (the United States Tour Operators’ Association), “and it reveals that despite its massive investment in tourism infrastructure, Dubai appears not ready to be a member of the world tourism family.”
IsramWorld offers tours and packages to 56 countries on five continents. In the wake of the Camp David Accords it was one of the first U.S. tour operators to offer a diverse program of tours to Egypt, and in 1994 it began offering tours to Jordan, “I am deeply disappointed in the UAE’s decision, one that seems to spell a return to the grim dark days of division and discrimination,” observed Gelber.
The Dubai Tennis Championships are sponsored by Barclays, Britain’s fourth-biggest bank that in 2008 acquired the assets of failed US investment bank, Lehman Brothers.
According to a report in today’s New York Times, when U.S. tennis champion, Venus Williams, learned of Peer’s visa denial she said, “All the players support Shahar, we are all athletes, and we stand for tennis.” Peer and her family urged the Women’s Tennis Association not to cancel the tournament because of the incident but, the New York Times took an unusually strong position in its article on the controversy, saying: “ There is always going to be international conflict, and athletes in the middle. But they can’t be abandoned there when there is a choice. Tennis should finish its business in the gulf this month, and say bye-bye, Dubai.”
“We’re saying ‘bye-bye, Dubai,’ right now,” Gelber added.
Isram is a major tour operator to the Middle East. It also operates in Europe, the Far East, and Latin America. I’ve worked with them in the past and they offer an excellent product with great service. They even offer some tours to Israel in Spanish, and a series of Elite Collection programs for upscale travelers.
On the same subject, I read in another blog that The Tennis Channel refused to broadcast the tournament over the same incident. This was also reported by the New York Times.
I’m eager to see what the WTA‘s reaction is going to be. I hope they do the right thing and pull out of Dubai.
What are your thougths on this?