Visitors to Terraces number 1.4 million
HAIFA, Israel — Nearly one and a half million people have visited the garden terraces surrounding the Shrine of the Bab on Mount Carmel since they were first opened to the public on 4 June 2001.
The vast majority of the 1.4 million visitors have been from Israel, which has a population of six and a half million. The terraces are one of the top tourist attractions in the country.
Releasing the figures, Guided Tours Operation manager Eliza Rasiwala said more than 380,000 of the visitors had taken pre-reserved guided tours.
The tours, provided by the Baha'i World Centre, are free of charge.
Guided tours take visitors down either the upper or lower sections of the 19 terraced gardens. Casual visitors may visit Terrace 19, the gardens immediately adjacent to the Shrine of the Bab, and the entrance plaza to the terraces at the foot of the mountain.
Ms. Rasiwala said there had been more than 9,700 tours since they first began two years ago.
About 25 Israeli university students, who are trained and paid for their services, lead most of the tours but there are also some full-time professional guides, she said.
The guides come from Jewish, Christian, Islamic and Druze backgrounds. Tours are also accompanied by support guides, some of whom are Baha'i World Centre staff members volunteering in their off-hours.
At present tours are available in Hebrew, Arabic, English, Russian and Spanish. Israeli staff take reservations by phone.
For more stories and photographs of the terraces and tours see http://www.bahaiworldnews.org/story/134
and also http://www.bahaiworldnews.org/terraces.