Travel Trade Journal
Israel more focussed on untapped business segments
In addition to continuing its focus on building leisure travel, MICE, and religious tourism, the Israel Ministry of Tourism office in India has increased its focus on education tourism, sustainable travel, and other group-based travel segments while promoting tourism. Sammy Yahia, Israel Tourism Consul, Israel Ministry of Tourism, gives more insights into the latest developments at the destination.
While India is gradually recovering its outbound tourism, the Israel Ministry of Tourism foresees the end of the year to have a boost in leisure travel. With international events in sports, nature and natural phenomena, lifestyle, as well as other events like destination weddings and honeymoons, family holidays, etc. on the rise, there is bound to be high outbound travel from India.
“Outbound travel from India has reached a very exciting time for the global tourism industry. With a growing middle class, we have seen an increase in the desire for international travel, especially to offbeat destinations. I have noticed that the younger Indian traveller is craving new travel experiences that are off the beaten path, be it solo travel, backpacking, outdoor adventures or simply relaxing,” says Sammy.
To encourage more Indian travellers to visit Israel, they simplified the visa application procedure for Indian citizens a few years ago. The relaxed visa rule involves less documentation for Indians who have availed of visas for and completed a trip to Schengen countries, the US, Canada, Australia, or Israel. For these travellers, the documents include a valid passport, a completed Visa Application Form, two photographs (5.5cm x 5.5cm), a cover letter with travel information, traveller’s insurance, and a passport copy (first and last page).
Since the signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel and UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco, connectivity from India has been increasing.” In addition to the flights from Turkish Airlines and Air India, Egypt Air, Emirates, Flydubai, Etihad Airways, and Gulf Air have also added Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport to their roster. El AL has also announced they plan to restart their Mumbai – Tel Aviv sector and intend to create a new direct route from Delhi. Air India has also expressed interest in adding direct flights from Bengaluru and Mumbai to Israel,” informs Sammy.
Israel is a country of fascinating history and past and has become a dynamic destination in the Middle East that offers luxury and leisure to all travellers. Israel has every geographical element to lure its visitors, from mountains to beaches, to plains, to deserts. One has to visit Israel to view the passionate Mediterranean Sea, the stillness of the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee, the multi-colored canyon of Makhtesh Ramon, and the amazing red sea. The small country has the most sacred sites, which are highly visited by tourists and pilgrims alike. Speaking about their current marketing mix to promote the destination, Sammy says, “The Israel Ministry of Tourism does many activities in India to keep Israel in the minds of the travellers. We host familiarisation trips for travel agents, corporations, journalists, bloggers, travel influencers, etc. The India office also executes marketing agreements with travel partners. I participate in speaking engagements in the different sectors that impact tourism. We also attend meetings with members of the entertainment industry, be it films, TV shows, OTT, etc. We also conduct seminars for our partners in the travel industry as well as corporates in business, agrotourism, hi-tech medical, etc. We are also now targeting industries that were previously untapped by Israel Tourism, like education.”
Education tourism has been a growing segment for many countries, and Sammy believes that this segment has the potential to significantly contribute to tourism. While targeting the new business segments, when asked about MICE business expectations from the India market, Sammy says, “India is a vast market with untapped potential. There are many sectors of the Indian industry that we are yet to approach to build our MICE business. While medical, financial, security, technology, and agriculture are industries that have MICE movement to Israel, I am working on attracting alternate industries as well as education, health, wellness, automotive, FMCG, metal works, and others.”
The cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are popular MICE destinations and have renowned hotels, modern infrastructure, and well-equipped convention centres. The Dead Sea and Eilat are great MICE add-ons, especially with the recently opened Ramon International Airport (ETM) in Eilat, servicing the region. Israel has hosted several international conventions and conferences. Owing to Israel’s modern infrastructure, impressive hotels, availability of international cuisines- vegetarian, vegan, and non-vegetarian options, as well as the state-of-the-art convention centres and bleisure activities, Israel makes for a great MICE destination.